Gimme More by
pbk out March 00
A book deep-set in the world of rock and roll, from the 60s on? Not everyone's cup of tea. But tea-sippers relax. There are writers who can make you feel you understand even the most esoteric backgrounds. Scott Turow is one, lawyer turned novelist, he has the gift of making even the most complex financial operations seem clear. Sarah Caudwell was another, able to make the arcane manoeuvres of barristers, both in and out of court, seem just ordinary, understandable behaviour. Liza Cody is another.
You would not expect a book with a setting like hers to be of passionate interest to anybody not already gripped by that curious, emotional and sometimes very financially rewarding world. But believe me, somehow - it's actually by writing that is splendidly punchy but never one inch over the top - Liza Cody makes you live with her heroine all the way, despite the lady having introduced herself as 'I am the bitch who puts her bags on the empty seat beside her,' and despite her going on at once to demonstrate a number of scams earning her anything from someone else's credit card to an unpaid-for room at the Savoy. Her name is Birdie; she is a rock widow from years back; and I rooted for her from Page One to Page 312.
But, above and beyond all the surface charm, this is a book that has things to say, perhaps the first that Liza Cody has managed. All right, she created surely one of the first of the feisty heroines with her Anna Lee, private detective, and Anna's adventures were always fun. Much the same could be said of the wresting heroine of Bucket Nut, though here there was a touch more seriousness behind the jokiness in the portrait of a woman making her way despite all burdens and obstacles. Now, however, it seems to me Liza Cody has taken a giant step forward.
First, the book has something to say in its depiction of the music industry. It explains, painlessly through its ongoing story, just how exploitive that world is, how under the surface glamour there are people battening on its stars, and on the wide substratum of moderate talent that supports them, to make themselves wealthier and wealthier. All of which is told through a beautifully turned plot, one of the ones that give you a feeling of rich satisfaction when the last piece falls into place.
But there is a yet deeper layer. The book, while being as laugh-aloud funny as any she has written, says to us that there is more to life than acquiring heaps and heaps of goodies. It says that there are values of the spirit, exemplified here by the magic of rock-and-roll (and Liza Cody makes you feel this even if you've never gone near a rock concert), that have a greater worth than any material acquisitions. And that is something that always needs to be said.