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The Importance of Music to Girls


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About the Author

LAVINIA GREENLAW is a novelist and poet. She was once in a band. She lives in London and is a professor of creative writing at the University of East Anglia.


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) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

A girl's emotional and aesthetic response to music is the chief concern of British novelist and poet Greenlaw's (Mary George of Allnorthover) memoir. This introspective tale of coming of age in and around London--primarily, in rural Essex--in the 1970s conveys the growth and formation of the protagonist's character through her evolving relationship to music in all its forms, from the Sex Pistols to her mother's singing to disco dancing in platform heels, and the insecure, adolescent Greenlaw finally finds understanding in punk music. Greenlaw employs music as a vehicle to invoke childhood experiences and remembrances of time passed. She writes in a poet's prose, and though the pace is slow, what occurs is deeply felt. This title will appeal to music fans as well as all readers interested in coming-of-age stories. Recommended for large public libraries and for women's studies and contemporary music collections in university libraries.--Katherine Litwin, Chicago Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

"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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