cover image I, Doll: Life and Times with the New York Dolls

I, Doll: Life and Times with the New York Dolls

Alexia Brue, . . Chicago Review, $24.95 (242pp) ISBN 978-1-556529-41-2

In this posthumous memoir, Kane details his outlandish experiences as bassist for the proto-glam/punk band the New York Dolls. Each of the brief chapters is like a Dolls’ song in and of itself; discrete “New York stories,” which, taken together, flesh out with great energy what it meant to be a young and daring artist in the gritty Warhol-driven art scene of 1970s New York. As a former design student, Kane spills his passion for the band’s unique and influential DIY fashion across nearly every chapter, unfortunately at the expense of any significant discussion of the Dolls’ equally influential music. Kane’s sense of humor is the book’s greatest strength (he describes the experience of his pants splitting open during the Dolls’ first concert as “the dreaded banana-peeling feeling”), expanding colloquial vocabulary with a Mel Brooks-on-LSD kind of timing suggesting the very spirit that infused the Dolls’ New York milieu. At times, however, Kane’s over-the-top prose renders his musings and recollections inchoate, particularly when his animosity toward the Dolls’ early management degrades into near-incomprehensible rants. The foreword and epilogue, carefully and lovingly written by his widow, Barbara, fill in the space created by Kane’s bombast. (Aug.)