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The Importance of Music to Girls Paperback – May 26, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Has the precision and intensity of prose poetry . . . brilliantly traces the shaping of a rich, complex self.” ―Chicago Tribune
“A brief, masterful memoir.” ―The New Yorker
“Exhilarating . . . perfectly evokes the sense of release and rebellion of a teenage girl driving through the countryside with boyfriends, blasting heavy metal on the car radio. . . . An amazing feat of inventiveness.” ―Salon.com
“Greenlaw brings her youth to life in this book. . . . Readers will hear the accompanying sound track wafting off the pages.” ―The Washington Post
“Highly original . . . will resonate with everyone who has ever danced around a handbag or played air guitar.” ―Daily Mail (UK)
“Highly original . . . I've never read anything like it.” ―The Buffalo News
“adorable...poignantly musing...and genuinely rueful.” ―The Los Angeles Times
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Top Customer Reviews
There are plenty of reviews out there, and they're generally mixed. The Importance of Music to Girls made Salon.com's Summer Reads; but was skewered in London's The Independent. My reflections do not diverge much from this farraginous example. I had a dickens of a time maintaining my interest at the outset of the memoir. I'm not sure if that's entirely Greenlaw's fault or my own. Her storytelling certainly became more clear, coherent and less ethereal as her remembered-self ages. The book is divided into more than fifty chapters; constituent essays on a theme. Each essay is prefaced by a quote, some more esoteric ("very good") than others. Part of me wonders whether she meant them ironically (Roland Barthes? Bullfinch's Mythology?), or if that was the effect of having read her teenage-punk self's preoccupation with irony in the latter portion of the book.
A creative writing professor and poet, Greenlaw is very much a writer I would like to know more about. So, I read her slender memoir with a critical eye towards form and function. Effect was lovely if not muted, which surprised me. For one having written a memoir about her journey through the landscape of dance hall discos and London punk, Greenlaw's tone is surprisingly subdued. I understand, from a writer's perspective, the urge to not draw the world too deeply into the wounds, scars, and dissymmetries of one's experience. Alternately, perhaps she wished to exude the post-modern detachment she experienced as a confused adolescent who depended so heavily on album cover art to interpret which mode of femininity was acceptable.Read more ›
Oh, and guys, the title in English (in English English) has a decidedly ironic twist. It's less 'about' music than about the importance of, well, everything, in our salad days, when we are green in judgment. It's about acquiring personhood, something we all have to do in our own way
The highlights of the book are in Greenlaw's mini tone-poem-istic passages (waltzing on the feet of her father, driving fast in cars with boys through the Essex countryside to the sounds of Led Zeppelin, smoking pot and listening to Earth, Wind and Fire) - I always look for authors who can create new and unique images in my mind, and Lavinia Greenlaw is most definitely able. Her images, though, are too smart, hip, detached for their own good. Avoiding hyperbole and instead opting for haiku-like details and a university professor's critical eye, her prose tends to fall short of anything resembling catharsis. To use a drug analogy, the reader feels like he or she swallowed a couple ambiens and is observing all events transpire through the ponderous, detached, dry-mouthed and slightly disorienting lens of a dreamworld.Read more ›
In "The Importance of Music to Girls" (208 pages), author Lavinia Greenlaw brings her recollections of what it was like growing up with music, and how it shaped and influenced her, in the 1960-1970s of her native England. The book takes a while to find its groove, but when it does so, about one-third into it, it all really clicks, and from there on it became an engrossing read, and treat, for me, particulary since it appears the author differs only 2 years or so from me (I grew up in Belgium). So many of the music names and memories that she retells in turn brought back memories for me I hadn't thought of in a LONG time. Along the way there are the usual boy/girl and school adventures and problems, but it is a sidebar for me as I was reading the book.
Here just a couple of snippets that made me chuckle: about listening to the radio as a teenager: "From Radio Luxembourg, I moved on to pirate station Radio Caroline. It was illegal, and broadcast from a boat just out there off the Essex coast. Its DJs never sounded silly or romantic, and rarely cheerful. They were improvisatory, and they never played the usual chart hits." About appreciating music: "Until now I hadn't given much thought to producers. I'd heard of Phil Spector and his "Wall of Sound" and admired Quincy Jones, but didn't understand what they did. Then I read about Martin Hennet and saw his names on records by Joy Division, the Buzzcocks and Magazine. I began to listen differently, like someone who has grasped prosody reads a poem differently".
In all, I really connected with this book, and would recommend it to anyone who grew up with music being an important aspect of their life. In that sense, the title of the book is really deficient, in that this is not just "for girls".
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was really good,it just took me longer to get into it than I expected. Overall it was a good book.Published on April 4, 2014 by Asiah Thomas
This is an interesting little book,
a quick read, and it will inspire you
to explore your own life through the
music you've known throughout your life.