Top critical review
13 people found this helpful
on 28 May 2015
I'm always look out for books on the punk era so was looking forward to this (as I love clothes as well). The punk years are for me very interesting as she writes from a down to earth and honest perspective. The story's about her involvement with Keith Levene, Mick Jones, Sid Vicious and John Lydon were mostly new to me a great to read despite getting a few dates muddled/wrong (I'm read too many Pistols books). The Slits years was also great as I knew only a little about it and had never read the perspective of a band member. Though the later Slits years of 'Earthbeat' etc is curiously brief and lacking in detail as the band just seems to drift apart. As Viv is a feminist this crops up a lot, it wasn't unexpected but after a while it seems that every negative male interaction with Viv/The Slits is down to sexism. Most bands seem to have suffered people attempting to control them and their output no matter what sex they were (Pistols and the Clash included). Her dealings with Palmolive is a case in point - Viv demands that Palmolive wears a bra whilst drumming as it makes the band look bad with her breast bouncing about, had that comment come from a man what would Viv had said. Likewise the sacking of Palmolive, had a man suggested she be sacked I expect Viv would have said it was because "he couldn't control her wild female spirit and didn't understand her feminine rhythm's". Whereas Viv sacked her because she wasn't that good a drummer and couldn't play in time. The word 'masculine' crops of in the book a few times and always in a prejorative way.
The last third of the book details her post Splits life - work, relationships, IVF, baby, ressurection etc. Viv is actually older than I thought but throughout the book see somes across as strangely immature with a mix of arrogance and large helpings of self-doubt. The problem is she can't seem to see how priviliged she is - having opportunities many people, let alone women, would just love to have. Financially comfortable (including daughter at private school - boo!), a big network of friends (the beautiful/cool sort), people who care for and want to interact and encourage her. She ludicrously describes herself as "unemployable". But she can't seem to see this, like many people her head is her own worst enemy. Again she see's her husbands dislike of her getting back into music through feminist eye's, when I'm sure they're plenty if women out there who've expressed the same opinion to their male partner and for a whole variety of reasons which Viv hasn't bothered exploring.
My final problem with the book is it is written in present tense and the views she expresses are at the time of the event. Sometimes she adds footnotes in italics as to her current thinking. The problem is some of her thoughts/feelings at the time of the event sound more like her feelings now so it can make it a bit of a confusing narrative. From watching interviews with Viv I thought she was warm, self-deprecative and funny but this book shines a whole new light on her. I applaud Viv on her honesty but someone needs to give her a regular shake and make her write a 'gratitude list'.