here are some books that make you feel like you're just hanging out with the writer - laughing, sharing stories, spending an enjoyable afternoon. For me, this was one of those books.
Jancee Dunn (class of '84) has spent quite a few of those afternoons herself, but they were with people like Dolly Parton, Madonna, and Christina Aguilera. She's not a name-dropper, though. Her memoir of her years writing for various magazines, among them Rolling Stone, GQ (as a sex columnist), Vogue, and O: The Oprah Magazine, shifts between celebrity anecdotes - framed as proven recommendations for getting to the heart of an interview with a famous person - and her memoirs of making the big leap from New Jersey to Manhattan to pursue her writing ambitions. A lucky encounter with a Rolling Stone staffer at a party leads her out of the ad-agency job she landed after college and into the rock and roll lifestyle, starting as an editorial assistant and working her way up to the big cover-profile stories.
But the charm of this book is that Dunn never fully embraces that rock and roll lifestyle, even though she tries, and her most serious attempt to do so does not turn out well. She can't - and doesn't really want to - break out of the embrace of her friends outside "the business" or, more importantly, her close-knit New Jersey family, and as long as she has that, she stays just a bit too grounded, and a little too geeky, to be a true "Rock Chick." Eventually, she comes to embrace that truth about herself.
I don't talk about it often, but I harbored quite a few youthful "rock chick" dreams of my own, and writers for Rolling Stone hold some small fascination for me (which is one of several reasons why Almost Famous is among my very favorite movies) - but I'm pretty sure I'd be far less of a success at rock-chickery than Jancee Dunn; for one thing, I'm a lot too geeky. However, Dunn is an engaging storyteller, and I enjoyed this glimpse into her life and work.