Sunday, July 08, 2018

Review of Barlow's "Mother American Night"

Truthdig just ran my review of John Perry Barlow's memoir, Mother American Night: My Life in Crazy Times. My interest in the Grateful Dead piqued my curiosity, but tech culture has also become a more important part of my teaching and writing, so I read Barlow's memoir in big gulps.

As I mention in the review, the book sometimes reads like a long turn in a conversation--or rather, an edited transcript. This might have to do with the role of Robert Greenfield, Barlow's accomplice, who has produced several oral biographies. That approach makes for a smooth, quick read.

But I also think that Barlow's anecdotes are meant in part to test the reader's credulity. In the review, I quote several passages that support my hunch, but there are many more. At one point, for example, he says that Deadheads "are hapless and credulous and will believe anything you tell them."

In short, this is a quick, interesting read, but I wouldn't bet the ranch on its veracity.