Colvin’s ‘Diamond’ too roughly cut

DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH. By Shawn Colvin. Morrow. 224 pages. $26.

Plunk. Plunk. Plunk. Plunk.

That is the tempo of Shawn Colvin’s memoir, 224 pages of plodding prose utterly devoid of lyricism, with the tedium relieved occasionally by artless and earnest confessions, and more often by descents into cringe-inducing adolescent banality.

Colvin’s story of her development as a folkie singer-songwriter begins well enough with a straightforward account of her childhood in Vermillion, S.D., population 6,000: “Vermillion was not a town of diversity. I saw only white people for eleven years. We went to school, went to church, rode bikes, and pretended. ... We were not overscheduled, because there was nothing to do. We were not overprotected, because there was nothing to fear.”

But that’s as good as it gets. From there Colvin plods along in seventh-grade-essay-style prose: First I went here. Then I went there. Then I did this. Then so-and-so said that.

Readers trudging dutifully along will encounter banalities throughout the journey, twisting an ankle occasionally in a sinkhole of middle-schooler scatological humor.

To her credit, Colvin is willing to battle her demons.

She writes that, at 27, after years of alcohol and drug abuse, she sobered up and began to come to terms with a “veil of confusion and dysfunction and addiction.”

Through that experience she began to find her voice. Writing the song “Diamond in the Rough,” she says, was “an epiphany ... when a line was crossed, and I got it.”

What readers won’t get from Colvin’s tedious tale is any reason to reread this painfully mundane memoir. Bypass the book. Listen to the music.

Reviewer Harriett Roberson, a writer based in Charlotte