Friday, September 26, 2008

Two Women

Two Women

Two icons of the "counter-culture" revolution that started in the sixties were both named Robert- the singer-songwriter Bob Dylan and the artist R. Crumb. Both have been the subject of cultish fandom, both have continued to be productive into what would be the retirement years for many people. And both have had vital, artistic women in their lives, women who have recently released their memoirs: Need More Love, by Aline Kominsky Crumb, and A Freewheelin' Time, by Suze Rotolo.

Aline Kominsky Crumb, a few years younger than Suze but sharing a New York upbringing, is an artist and cartoonist. Her story, benefiting from the graphic novel medium, is as colorful and vibrant as her illustrations and artwork. This is not a book for the prudish or judgmental. ALL of the excesses of the sixties and seventies are here, some graphically illustrated (although the rawest x-rated comics are not included.) She was a true pioneer in "Wimmin's Comix", although her most famous work was done in collaboration with her husband. Those comics, mostly about mundane domestic situations, contain some of the most accurate and pithy examinations of the interaction between male and female psyches ever written. The story of their "open" relationship, mutual admiration, and subsequent family life which is told in this memoir is truly unique. Aline's unbridled vitality is nothing short of astounding.

Suze Rotolo was the main woman in Dylan's life as he made the rapid transition from scrabbling folkie into musical legend. Suze was a "Red Diaper" baby, the child of communist sympathizers, politically aware (participating in civil rights demonstrations as a teen-ager) and active in the performing arts (exposing Bob to modern drama) and remains a part of the Greenwich Village scene to this day. Her life story is a fascinating study of the times of the protest movement, with many vignettes of colorful artists and musicians. It is written in a plain style, almost bloodless, more a list at times than a memoir. Her slow-motion break-up with Bob in 1964 is told and while her heartbreak is hinted at it is not deeply developed. Her book ends in 1966 but there is just enough here to make it worth your while if you are a student of those times.

By Professor Batty


Anonymous Jon said...

I have to go over to Hibbing this afternoon for some school lab work and hopefully will get to eat at "Zimmie's". A lot of terrific memorabilia there. Walls worth reading. I'll look for Suze references and pics.

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