The elephant in the room Whit Hill's insightful, witty memoir

. May 22, 2012.

Don’t think of an elephant!

I bet you were not pondering a ponderous pachyderm until you read that line. Correct? But now you can’t help but think of massive, grey tonnage, giant flapping ears and swinging trunks. Right? The title of Whit Hill’s new memoir, Not About Madonna, works like that. Unless you’re a serious Madonna fan, or a frequent, careful reader of People Magazine, you undoubtedly don’t spend much time contemplating the mega star. But once you read that title, you might think, is Hill just teasing us with that cute cover line, and inside we’ll get some heretofore-untold salacious gossip? Well, wonder not. Sure, Hill, who, more than thirty years ago, was Madonna’s college roommate at the Uof M for nine months, tells some stories that maybe all but the most rabid Madonna fans have not heard, but as she says, “If you are looking for the dirt on a prefame Madonna, there are quite a few volumes of literature out there that will meet your needs better than this one…” She also adds, “And even though she’s in it, this book is not about Madonna.”

Methinks the lady (I’m referring to Hill) doth protest too much. Nobody reading the first page of this book is going to think that Hill is cashing in on her brief friendship with the pop icon. As is evident from the beginning, and increasingly obvious with every page turn, Hill is a writer of great honesty, insight and wit. This is a coming of age story —Hill’s, not Madonna’s — told by someone who experienced, and continues to live a life with relevance and interest for many of us, even those not ga ga over Madonna. (Besides, putting out a book about Madonna in 2011 — especially about who Madonna was in the late 1970’s — is not exactly striking while the iron (I mean, superstar) is hot. Madonna, though still very much a force to be reckoned with today, is nowhere near as central to the pop world as when she first burst on the music scene in the early Eighties.)

Hill’s subtitle, “My Little Pre-Icon Roommate and Other Memoirs,” is accurate. While half the book is about the friendship between the two women, (Hill never heard Madonna sing when they were roommates! She taught her a nightly ritual that…well, you’ll just have to read the book) there is much else to hold our interest here. Hill’s portrayal of the lives of young women growing up in the late Seventies — post Sixties, post Women’s Lib, post sexual revolution, post Vietnam and Watergate — is a valuable addition to the literature on the period. Her description of giving birth to her first child had me laughing out loud, her depiction of the life, and economic rewards of a modern dance choreographer, (which Hill has long been, in addition to her other work as a successful musician and writer) is instructive and sobering, while her loving description of her courtship and continuing romance with her husband, Al, manages to be both Hollywood-happily-ever-after, and very real.

Trending

Domino’s Farms Aids Ann Arbor’s Need for Office Space

Domino’s Pizza and Arbor Research are both launching new office building projects at Domino’s Farms. Domino’s Pizza is creating a 33,000-square-foot building on the north side of Domino’s Farms, expanding to their current space. Arbor Research is creating a new 49,500-square-foot headquarters building on the east side of Domino’s Farms. Both buildings should be completed

A Physician’s Perspective on Legalized Cannabis

On Tuesday, November 6th, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize cannabis for recreational use. Ten years ago, we had become the 13th state to legalize Cannabis for medical use. I voted for the medical cannabis law years ago because, in my view, cannabis is not a dangerous product, and too many people were being imprisoned for its use. At that time, however, I did not subscribe to the argument that there were legitimate medical uses for cannabis. How things have changed.

Tiny Expo at Ann Arbor District Library—A Curated Holiday Gift Fair with Flair

The Tiny Expo is a gem of an indie arts and crafts fair for vendors with original and unexpected products that make wonderful gifts but may not be an obvious fit for Ann Arbor’s mainstream art fairs. Shoppers who crave artistic, high quality products with diverse price points will find a rich variety of unique, handmade products to choose from.

New Tenants in Downtown Ypsilanti

Formerly long-vacant buildings in Downtown Ypsilanti are experiencing revitalization as small businesses and nonprofits are rapidly filling up spaces. Michigan Advocacy Program (MAP), a nonprofit organization that, “provides access to the justice systems for those that need it most,” recently purchased the Smith Furniture building at 15 S Washington Street which became their headquarters. Decode