A Freewheelin' Time, By Suze Rotolo

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The Independent Culture

Suze Rotolo is the girl nestling up to Dylan on the album cover of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. She met him in 1961 when she was 17 and he was 21, and this book is a record of their time together in folky, smoky Greenwich Village.

Rotolo was a "red-diaper baby" – the child of communist parents – and was right at home in the world of politicking and protest that folk musicians inhabited.

We have to wait 90 pages before she meets Dylan, though, and it starts getting interesting. Even then we don't learn anything very astonishing – Dylan was funny, engaging, intense, persistent at whatever he did, and extremely private. To find the real Dylan, go to his songs. Well, we knew that. But it's an enjoyably affectionate portrait, pleasantly unrancorous, despite their difficult break-up after a four-year affair. Rotolo could have had Dylan's child, but aborted it.

There are some good photos of a skinny, young Dylan and copies of his stream-of-consciousness letters, punctuated entirely by dashes. Worth it if you're a Dylan fan.