Sylvain Sylvain with Dave Thompson – There’s No Bones in Ice Cream: Sylvain Sylvain’s Story of the New York Dolls
There is an awful lot of charm, humor, and wit to Sylvain’s clever way of weaving his entire life narrative together in a living and engaging way, especially with respect to how he eventually transformed into the man we all know and admire as a founding member of one of the most important glam rock (and pre-punk) outfits to have ever existed. Although many will undoubtedly want to purchase the book solely for the fact that it focuses on the musical power and inspired genius of the New York Dolls and their short yet explosive career, Sylvain’s childhood and formative years are just as captivating to read about. The chapters chronicling his early years in Egypt and in particular his family’s escape to France are enthralling and extremely thought-provoking and interesting in a historical context. When the family migrated to the US in the early sixties, Sylvain’s life changed forever and it is perhaps those years between him coming to America and eventually forming the core line-up of the New York Dolls that form the most compelling parts of the book. The only thing that I could have wished for was a few more chapters on Sylvain Sylvain’s career post-Dolls.
Sylvain Sylvain and Dave Thompson have succeeded in conjuring up a vivid and vibrating mental picture of what it was like to be an aspiring musician in the Big Apple in the late sixties and seventies and how magnificent, wacky, and wonderfully weird it all was back then. At times, "There’s No Bones in Ice Cream" is undoubtedly stranger than fiction and there were passages and even whole pages that yours truly simply had to re-read due to a mixture of disbelief and me laughing so hard I nearly shat my pants. It goes without saying that there is plenty of rock ‘n’ roll glory and excess scattered throughout its pages and loads of funny and light moments, but it is also infinitely dark and haunting in places with respect to certain members of the Dolls and their drug abuse and how certain friendships fractured and so on and so forth. There is an underlying sense of longing and perhaps even loneliness to the way in which Sylvain portrays his old band mates and their crazy musical journey together. I guess what I am trying to say is that he comes across as a sympathetic and reflective soul who clearly treasures the time these like-minded souls spent together and the wild and reckless memories that they made together.
"There’s No Bones in Ice Cream" is mandatory reading and one of the very best accounts of the excessive and musically thrilling 70s New York scene, but again, it goes way beyond that and encompasses so much more than a simple review such as this can possibly sum up or put into words. I cannot stress how much you need to read this book and how strangely enchanting it is. Even the title of the book is brilliant! Simply put, this fantastic piece of literature is one of a kind and you owe it to yourself to check it out as soon as humanly possible. It is as hilarious and insane as it is heartwarming and moving, so just make sure you do not miss out on this 288-page gem.