The Importance of Music to Girls

Lavinia Greenlaw, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $23 (208p) ISBN 978-0-374-17454-5

In her first memoir, British novelist and poet Greenlaw (Mary George of Allnorthover ) tells of coming to know the world and her place in it through her love of music. The story begins as she first awakens to her inchoate senses, a tiny child waltzing with her father, lulled by her mother's singing and clamoring amid the boisterous play of her three siblings and the entire family's constant chatter. She discovers that outside her home, the world is a series of social rings she must struggle to break into, from joining Ring-a-ring o' Roses games to finding a sense of belonging as a plainly English girl in a culturally diverse school. Growing up in the late 1960s and '70s, she's captivated by her transistor radio and the shifts in pop culture that it heralds, from hippie music to glam rock to disco. As she matures, she swears her allegiance to the latter, moving en masse with primping and dancing girlfriends. She then turns to punk, which “neutralized and released” her from the weight of femininity, and then to new wave, which suited her “seriousness and pretensions.” Her punk sensibilities confuse her sense of how to love and be loved, “how to have feelings without ironizing them too.” Greenlaw's coming-of-age story is smartly and tenderly told, likely to snag readers like an infectiously catchy tune. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/24/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-312-42837-2
Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4668-0583-5
Hardcover - 195 pages - 978-0-571-23028-0
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-0-571-32617-4
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