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PRINT April 2001

books

Groovy Bob

AT FIRST GLANCE this book is but one more irritating example of a cut-and-paste interview “biography,” in which the contributors do most of the work and the “author” gets the credit. Pick a figure within living memory (George Plimpton’s Truman Capote is representative); jet around the world recording the recollections of the subject’s family, friends, colleagues, and enemies; get them to react to other versions of events (preferably contradictorily); cut it all up to form a roughly chronological narrative; add pictures; publish. Few facts, no interpretation; often muddled, often repetitive. But as you read this increasingly engrossing picture of the short life of Robert Fraser, a trendsetting English gallerist of the ’60s, the method gradually pays off. It has great immediacy and, for a figure by no means a heavyweight, is probably preferable to solemn biographical treatment.

Harriet Vyner,

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