Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Molly Ivins: A Rebel Life

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Molly Ivins: A Rebel Life (PublicAffairs, 2009).

I really, really enjoyed what little of Molly Ivins' writing and hellraising that I got to experience when she was still living. She wrote in a wonderful, larger-than-life style, taking no prisoners and suffering no fools. She was a fantastic person, a tough, progressive champion who skewered the pretentious and the status quo. Heaven knows we would have been better off to have her with us during that "too big to fail" malarkey about big business.

Molly Ivins deserved a better biography than this. It's entertaining, to a degree, and I learned a lot about what she did and where she worked, but I didn't learn much of anything about her. Presumably for rights issues or an assumption that readers already have her books on the shelf, very little of her writing made it into this story. It's a violation of "Show, don't tell." The authors tell us that she was a witty and wonderful raconteur, but there's not nearly enough of her prowess on display.

It's a deadly dry story that tells you that hers was a life full of fun, but effectively refers the reader to other sources to experience it. I had hoped for considerably more, and retired it glumly, without much of a reason to recommend anybody read it when most of Ivins' own work is still in print.

No comments: