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Book Review – “Lola Bensky” by Lily Brett

| 12 November 2012 | Reply

Published by Penguin Books
rrp AUD$29.99
Reviewed by Dani DeVille

In 1967, Lola Bensky is a nineteen year-old, overweight, Jewish journalist, working for Australia’s biggest music magazine, “Rock Out”.  When Lola isn’t interviewing famous rock stars, she spends her time planning increasingly bizarre diets, ironing her hair, wondering whether Cher will ever give back the fake eyelashes she borrowed and mulling over her relationship with her parents and their painful family history.

Lola travels from her home town of Melbourne to London and the USA, interviewing the stars who would go on to define an era: Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Mama Cass, Sonny and Cher and a semi-conscious Brian Jones to name but a few.

Far from being swept up in the delirium of sex, drugs and rock and roll which swept across the 1960s and 70s rock scene like Keith Richards’ nostrils over a line of coke, Lola Bensky, with her endearingly inquisitive nature and ability to talk and relate to celebrities as equals, often turns interviews away from the topic of music and towards very intimate topics: fears, beliefs, family history and death. Lola appears to find a catharsis in her interviews, constantly sharing with her subjects details about her own, painful relationship with her parents, Renia and Edek, and how they lost their entire family in a death camp in Auschwitz.

The book follows Lola’s life and career, sometimes flitting, disjointedly, back and forth between the decades, and her journey to come to terms with her own identity, her body issues, her past and her difficulty in experiencing happiness.

Author, Lily Brett, is one of Australia’s most prolific and well-respected authors. Through Lola, Brett revisits her own past.  In an interview with the Sunday Morning Herald, Brett claims that Lola is who Brett was. Although they are not the same person Lola Bensky has been to all the same places and interviewed all the same people. Brett explains that it was important for her to capture “true essence” of these rock icons, a feat which she executes masterfully.

Brett expresses the pain and impact of loss vividly and brutally: The loss of innocence by recounting Renia’s experiences in Auschwitz, the loss of family and friends and the loss of idols, the emotional climax of the book occurring when Lola takes stock of who is left after the ravages of the 70s.

Lola Bensky is sincere, humane, gently humorous and deeply touching, sharing an intimate and very personal view of some of the 60s and 70s rock idols we, until now, felt that we were already familiar with.

Category: Book Reviews

About the Author ()

Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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