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A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties Hardcover – May 13, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway; 1 edition (May 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767926870
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767926874
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #258,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In July 1961, Rotolo, a shy 17-year-old from Queens, met an up-and-coming young folk singer named Bob Dylan at an all-day folk festival at Riverside Church in Manhattan, and her life changed forever. For the next few years, Suze and Bobby lived a freewheeling life amid the bohemians in the emerging folk scene in Greenwich Village. Rotolo offers brief glimpses of the denizens populating the new music scene below 14th Street in the early '60s and recalls the excitement as writers and musicians like Dylan wandered in and out of each other's lives and apartments, trading music and lyrics to produce a new sound that would change American music. Yet as the woman who's clutching Dylan's arm on the cover of his second album Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, Rotolo doesn't give us a very freewheelin' memoir. She offers shallow, almost schoolgirl-like reflections on the man she loved and lived with for three years. In a dull and plodding manner, Rotolo provides no new insights into Dylan, claiming, as have so many, that he is mysterious and enigmatic. In an excerpt from one of her journals, she writes ambivalently that she believes in his genius and that he is an extraordinary writer, but that she doesn't think he's an honorable person. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

One of the most recognizable album-cover images of the 1960s shows a young man, underdressed for the winter in a light suede jacket, leaning into a young woman. Rotolo was that young woman, and in this uneven, overlong, still fascinating memoir, she tells the story behind that photo and her love for Bob Dylan. Rotolo met Dylan in 1961; she was 17, he 20. While Dylan is the bedrock of her memoir—without him, would there be a book?—he isn’t the whole story. Rotolo discusses her own background (Italian heritage, Communist parents, inability to fit in growing up in Queens, the craziness and sexism of the era), but the dominant setting is the Greenwich Village folk scene. In informal, conversational style, Rotolo recalls those who made that scene, many of them famous but none more so than the complicated Dylan. Given his formidable presence, Rotolo’s adamant refusal to be more than “a string on his guitar” in the book is admirable. The moments when she comes most alive in its pages are the most compelling. --June Sawyers

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Customer Reviews

Her writing is very readable, without having the feeling that it was ghosted, in particular.
styler
As Suze Rotolo makes clear, it was a time when the exploding creativity and freedom of the sixties was still living within the husk of an older and much darker world.
David Ozonoff
Of the many books about the sixties era I’ve read, Suze Rotolo’s memoir A Freewheelin’ Time is one of the best.
Russell J. Sanders

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 66 people found the following review helpful By David Ozonoff on May 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like almost all the reviewers so far I loved this book, and like some I was also in the same neighborhood as the events recorded in this wonderful book. In every instance where I knew someone or hung out at a place mentioned, the version here coincides exactly with what I remember but there is so much more I didn't know and so many people I only knew about second hand. This is a generous and kind book but also a starkly honest one. If you want to know what it was like then in Greenwich village in the 60s, then this is the best source I know of. Bob Dylan's persona in various documentaries comes off to many as arrogant but you will gain a new appreciation for him both as an artist and as a person from one who was closer to him than any other in his first years as an artist (1961 to 1964), when most of the events in the book take place. You will also understand what attracted him to Suze Rotolo. My memory of her was of a radiant smile and personality, but you will understand clearly from this book, as did Bob Dylan, that there was solid substance behind her wonderful smile.

I also want to recommend this book to today's generation, those under the age of 25 or so. There is a new spirit of idealism and creativity and I think you would find it profitable to read an account of an earlier era that also was pregnant with that kind of promise that had yet to come to fruition. As Suze Rotolo makes clear, it was a time when the exploding creativity and freedom of the sixties was still living within the husk of an older and much darker world. The old ways affected everyone, even the most bohemian denizens of Greenwich Village.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By J. Michael Nace on May 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have followed Dylan since 1964 and his music. This book is a refreshing, vulnerable essay of Suze's life with Bob Dylan for 4 years. It is intimate, respectful, sensitive [she speaks of tears listening even to this day of his early records as she was there and says today they accurately portray Dylan] and includes much never-before-read material that is helpful in getting to know the man Dylan. She gives us keen insight into her feelings about their relationship, friends and her family, with extensive history of her family as well as her life before and after Bob Dylan. She is as important in this book as Bob is. It is understandably obvious she still has emotions and maybe even wounds about this relationship. After reading this book (and I have read others on Dylan) I had feelings of nostalgia, and then feelings of satisfaction as the book concluded with a sense of completion. If I ever meet Dylan I feel for the first time I could relate to him as a man and not relate to him as a myth or icon. I just returned from the Village in NYC and Suze's description of it is completely accurate. I was there in the 70s and it is a completely different place today. I believe this book is vulnerable and complete enough to be the final word on Dylan as a person from the early years by someone who knew him better than anyone else.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A. Lane on May 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book. I was born in '63 and can only hope to get a feel through bios and countless viewings of Woodstock, Dont look Back and others. I was emotionally slammed by this book as it shows Suze to be a strong, intelligent, progressive and sensitive woman waaay ahead of her time. The relationship with Bob now makes perfect sense based on their sensibilities and sensitivities. The info shared is deeply personal without being excessive or embarrassing. Dylan's character and emotional state is revealed while the progression of Suze and Bob's relationship brought me close to tears several times. The non-linear time format kept things lively and interesting. One of the gifts for me was Suze's attitude that Greenwich Village is essentially a state of mind and that we can recreate it in the present if the desire and creative elements are there. The book also offered me insight into my own parents struggles in this country as second generation European immigrants. I blasted through this book and as a result have had to cleanse my mental palate a bit (happily). Thank you Suze Rotolo for sharing after all these years and for some good advice for the present.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ceres on June 9, 2008
Format: Kindle Edition
Most people will probably be drawn to this book because they are fans of Bob Dylan. Others will be drawn to it out of an interest in, or nostalgia for, Greenwich Village in the sixties. Those were certainly the reasons that I purchased it. And I certainly wasn't disappointed. Like other reviewers I journeyed to the Village in search of freedom from suburbia, first as a commuter and later as a resident, albeit half a decade after Ms. Rotolo left it. Time and again as I was reading it I recalled places and feelings from those times, made alive once again by Ms. Rotolo's splendid prose. And there was plenty of Dylan, as seen through Ms. Rotolo's eyes, as well as many of the other figures, some famous, some not, that played a role in shaping the those times.
But what I was not prepared for was how intrigued I was by Ms. Rotolo's own story. And even more by her reflections on the events of those years. Through these pages she has transformed herself from "the girl on the cover" to an individual of profound insight and feeling. From her memories of growing up in a communist household during the McCarthy era to her days as a "slum goddess" she has her own fascinating story to tell.
Ms. Rotolo ends her book by noting that the Greenwich Village of which she writes is no longer physically there. But she goes on to remind us that the real Village is a state of mind where "A compelling and necessary idea will always find a place to plant itself. The creative spirit finds a way."
That creative spirit reveals itself in this book. If you are nostalgic for the past or hopeful for the future I urge you to read this book.
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