SUZE ROTOLO A Freewheelin’ Time (Aurum)
However hard she tries, Suze Rotolo is fated to be defined by popular culture as the lady accompanying Bob Dylan down that snowy New York street on the cover of “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan”. She confronts expectations head on with the title and cover art of this book, which describes itself as “A memoir of Greenwich Village in the sixties”. Inevitably there’s a deal of Dylan in this book, but it’s concerned with far more than one man. It ranges from Rotolo’s upbringing as a “red diaper baby”, as children of communists were branded, to her 1964 trip to Cuba in defiance of the US government’s travel ban. Rotolo writes with an engaging openness, never genuflecting before the cultural significance of her subjects, and peppers the text with personal photographs, newspaper clippings and fascinating ephemera such as a Gaslight Café menu. As a companion and corrective to Dylan’s own “Chronicles” it serves its part, but it’s in being vibrantly redolent of an era long vanished that the book’s true value lies.