unsuspecting. a man who has to move on. As Thomas sums up. ‘the traveller must travel'. And George does. with a vengeance. moving effortlessly from one bizarre situation to the next and effecting an unconvincing metamorphosis from suburbia days.
From the start. Thomas' message is clear: cut and run while you can. but don‘t expect things to be any easier when you get home. Yet what aims to be a poignant tale ofescape. search. self-discovery and disappointment reads more like a travelogue. The cast of hundreds. and the unremitting pace at which George romps around the world and its women. leaves you breathless. credulity stretched taut. and deeply grateful when the last chapter ends and Goodnight wanders alone into the sunset. (Rosemary Goring)
0 You Can’t Kill the SpiritJill Miller (Women‘s Press £3.95) Sub-titled —‘Women in a Welsh mining valley". this book records the experiences of eleven miners‘ wives during the strike. Each ‘personal experience‘ story tells of the family divisions. the hunger. the shortage ofclothes. money. home comforts. And each concludes with an expression of pride in being part ofthe mining community. and in being working-class. The author/collator Jill Miller contributes occasional paragraphs about her own struggle as a female. working-class writer. Overall. the book is emotively and sincerely written. but it is political diatribe. so it‘s not for anyone who's on the bluer side of purple. (Kristina
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o No Direction Home Robert Sheldon (New English Library £14.95) Next to pop biography. many enterprises pale into simplicity. Cloud sculpture/getting a round out of the books editor. either ofthese. for example. would be a dawdle by comparison. To begin with. there is the danger ofconﬂating man and image. Like actors. rock stars spend half their lives being somebody other than themselves and thus. being among life‘s natural dissemblers. they tend to be as elusive as the point ofa Jeffrey Archer novel. Bewildered. the pop biographer generally retreats into glitzy hype or murky hatchet-job. neither ofwhich may be said to advance the cause of anything in particular.
Robert Sheldon manages to avoid both of these frowsy cul-de-sacs and no surprise either. given the natural advantages he enjoyed. First. his subject is by far and away the most legitimate claimant to major talent
' i ’ I \ .-._. .-':.; . :12" .. . ‘ " status in the histo y of rock an therefore demanded serious treatment. Second. Dylan is at least halfas interesting as a man as he is as an artist (an advance of about 5() per cent on most of his contemporaries). Third. as long-time confidante of the great man. Sheldon gained free access to reliable. first-hand sources. And finally. Sheldon can write.
Aggregate these and we have the ingredients ofthat rare phenomenon. the good pop biography. Much ofwhat he tells us we have known but there is enough in the way ofenlightenment (that Dylan took the name of Matt. the TV Western white-hat and not that ofthe celebrated Welsh shit. for instance) and. enough ofauthority and style in the telling to accord No Direction Home the status of nearest definitive Dylan thus far. (BW)
o All That. . . The Other Hall of History Kate Charlesworth and Marsaili Cameron. This one purports to fill in the omissions (if/066 And/ill That — in other words. to put women onto the historical map. We all agree (well. don’t we?) that history was written by men. about men and for men — except for the unavoidable inclusion of female royals — but the authors of this book find it necessary to assume that every one of their readers is a complete ignoramus. Apart from the extremely antagonistic and gratuitous ‘quizzes‘ (the book has a kind of teach- yourself-how-stupid-you-are formula). there are some interesting facts and unusual quotes. It's a pity that both the cartoons and the writing are over-burdened. even drowned. in sarcasm and authorial shoulder-chips. (Kristina Woolnough)
O Visibly Vera Cath Jackson (Women‘s Press £2.95) Great strip cartoons which will please the word-weary amongst you.
They tell of the fortunes and follies ofVera. the left-wing. lesbian feminist and her chums. You‘ll find a heart-broken Vera swigging at her bottle of ‘C‘hateau de deserted Dyke‘. a Vera putting an ad in Lovebuds. the Lonely llearts‘ magazine. She eats All-Bran. drinks in the Dyke and Duck and listens to the proposals of her fellow lesbians. one of whom plans ‘to make a baby' with the gay Kim. The cartoons satirize stereo-typing. and affectation above all else. although there are very funny ones on newspaper sexism and on the strange practices ofgynaecologists. A good stocking-filler for any size foot. but probably not for your granny or the local bigot. (Kristina Woolnough)
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The List 14 — 27 November 43