BOOK REVIEW / Visited by someone like a virgin: 'I Dream of Madonna' - ed Kay Turner: Thames & Hudson, 6.95 pounds

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The Independent Culture
MOST Madonna books involve the (invariably male) author in a rustle through the garbage in search of a salacious image of the Material Woman that is not of her own design. Kay Turner's collection of fifty women's dreams of Madonna has the opposite purpose: to exalt its subject through the visions other women have of her. The rule that there's nothing more boring than other people's dreams does not apply here.

In her theoretical introduction, Turner speaks of Madonna appearing to people as a 'sisterly companion' rather than superstar. This is not strictly true, since even in the many dreams here where Madonna does not acknowledge her own celebrity, the dreamer is always aware of it. But the complex relationships here between dreamers and dreamee do illuminate aspects of fandom that cliches of unthinking dependency obscure.

Most of the contributors are not teenagers but mature women, from the author's circle of professionals and academics. They feel protective of Madonna, and take pleasure in her success. Erica (35) dreams of her speaking at a charity function: 'They know she isn't an idiot and are interested in what she has to say on this subject.' Monica (27) approaches Madonna and says: 'Let me take you away from all this'. All is not cosy sisterliness, though. A grandmother (61) feels at a low ebb, and Madonna tells her she looks a mess.

Even the most bizarre of the dreams - Janet (33) worries about Madonna and Sandra Bernhard working in a frozen chicken factory; Michelle (27) fetches her a baby sheep - seem perfectly logical next to some of the responses she elicits from people who are awake. One of the accompanying collages features a cutting from an American tabloid, in which a psychic medium claims to have spoken to Madonna's dead mother, who has informed her that her daughter is cursed by the devil and will burn in hell. There's no analysing such insanity, but a companion volume, Men's Dreams of Madonna, might be a start.

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