This book is a bit of a mixture, it has very deep analysis of Marc's poetry & (to an extent) song writing, as well as relating pertinent parts of his life & career. There is a very interesting transcript of an interview with Riggs O'Hara, the actor who was such an influence on Marc in his early years & the author has obviously researched the subjects Marc refered to in his writing, in great detail & with obvious application. However, whether everyone would agree with the assertions which are made in relation to the interpretations of Marc's writing, is debatable. I am a huge fan of Marc Bolan & appreciate all aspects of the work he produced, throughout all stages of his career. However, I am not convinced that the case the author presents in respect of Marc's understanding of, & the infered "deeper meanings" attached to, what he was writing, always hold water - the analysis, for example, of "Metal Guru", does not mirror Marc's own explanation of the lyrics (particularly the "All alone without a telephone" line), which he gives on the "Where's The Champagne ?" interview disc. I do agree that Marc's writing is under rated & even under estimated by many, in terms of its sophistication but I feel the case for Marc being aware of some of the literary & historical references that the author alludes to & infers Marc was au fait with,is not wholly convincing. I enjoyed this book,despite it being more of an "academic" kind of read than Carl Ewens (very good)comparable recent effort, to analyse Marc's songwriting & the author is obviously a man with deep seated affection for Marc who has been admirably meticulous in the research for this book -it's just that I'm not sure,when you listen to, or read interviews with people like Tony Visconti & June Child,talking about Marc's song writing, his influences & his interest in literature (or lack thereof, other than a bit of Blake or Tolkien), whether some of this is overplaying what Marc was doing - a good read but at times, for me, the analysis is a bit too deep. That said, many Bolan fans might well read this book & think - "spot on Tony !" - certainly could be fuel for a good debate.Read it & see what you think !
I've heard a range of comments on this book from different Bolan fans. The criticisms often slam the book for failing to be a definitive account of his song-writing. In other words, they blame it for failing to do things it never attempted to do. Taken on its own merits 'Wizard's Gown' is a brave attempt to investigate the roots of Bolan's poetry and a work that throws new light and new research on the writing abilities of a man often over-looked as a wordsmith. By far the best work is the analysis of Bolan's most ambitious prose work and the biographical details that present facts where half-truths have previously been believed. So - for example - the glib assertion he loved the eco-fantasy work of writers like Tolkein is tackled head-on, revealing Marc to be much more at home in Narnia than Middle Earth, and taking the trouble to explain the reasons for this. This work is less impressive when the author analyses some of the better known songs and I'm not sure his reading of Metal Guru is accurate, but the main point here is to engage with Marc Bolan the writer and establish the level of skill, insight, ambition and accomplishment we can all find in his work. On that level much of 'Wizard's Gown' reads like a well-argued post-graduate thesis, and sustains itself throughout the argument.