Thursday, May 22, 2008

New Last Week: A Freewheelin’ Time by Suze Rotolo

She captures it all beautifully, carefully, elegantly. With skill and verve, she recreates a time that has been attributed with almost mythical properties. And, in the telling, she places herself at the feet of one of the gods of the time, handmaiden to his growing godhead, the man who, as she herself describes it, finally becomes the elephant in the room of her life.

Suze Rotolo was 17 when she met Bob Dylan, himself then a raw 20-year-old. “Bob was my first significant relationship,” Rotolo tells us in A Freewheelin’ Time (Broadway Books). “During our time together things became very complicated because so much happened to him so fast. We had a good time, but also a hard time, as a young couple in love.”

Rotolo is artful in A Freewheelin’ Time. Her tone and the anecdotes she chooses to share evoke a significant moment in American history. And, yes: her relationship with Bob Dylan plays a part here. And, yes: that is Rotolo walking arm-in-arm with Dylan on the cover of Dylan’s album The Freewheelin’, the same image that covers this book and, not coincidentally, the title that lends itself here, again.

Though -- clearly -- Dylan’s presence is felt throughout, there is more to A Freewheelin’ Time as well. Much more. In a way, what we feel here is young American womanhood in the early 1960s, on the brink of something beyond imagining.

“Common sense is a wicked, hideous, backbiting enemy in cahoots with instinct to beat the daylights out of white-hot sentiment. No contest. Everything is obliterated.”

Rotolo’s A Freewheelin’ Time is a wonderful journey. I’d take it again.



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