I picked this memoir up when I got Caitlin Moran’s hilarious and mortifying How to Build a Girl last fall, but then it got shuffled to the bottom of the towering pile(s) of Must Read Next books. I can’t even remember why I got this in the first place. I didn’t even know who Ms. Albertine was. Was I just cruising Amazon and buying Random Memoirs By Brassy British Chicks? Sigh. Thanks, Merlot!
Befitting the music motif, this book is set up like an album, with a side one and a side two. Side one sees her as a boy crazy, fashion-obsessed teen in the seventies. She was in a band with Sid Vicious before becoming a founding member of The Slits. She hung out with Johnny Thunders, loved Vivienne Westwood designs and frequented Macolm McLaren’s trendsetter shop SEX, dated Mick Jones and subsequently inspired the lyrics to Train in Vain. But by 1982 the scene has changed drastically and the band is done. The second side has Ms. Albertine reinventing herself again; going to film school, marriage, kids, life threatening illness, reinvention again and again.
Ms. Albertine has got a rather cogent, if sometimes a little too whispery-girly at times, writing style. She lived and participated in some interesting times in music and cultural history. She’s intelligent and well-read. I just had trouble connecting with her, especially when she waxed rhapsodic about what she was wearing in painfully minute detail, or went on about not having a husband or a lover (masturbation just doesn’t do it for her). And she did that a lot. But then, look at the title…….what was I expecting?