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November 09, 1986|E. W. Alexander

I, TINA by Tina Turner with Kurt Loder (Morrow: $16.95; 236 pp.). One might hesitate, at first, to read Tina Turner's new autobiography, written with senior Rolling Stone magazine editor Kurt Loder. Primarily because who wants to chance reading another premature pop autobiography? Further, why risk tarnishing the image so many of us have of this talented, gutsy, 46-year-old mother of four (two are Ike Turner's children by another union; she claims them all) who "came back" with extraordinary allure and aplomb to beat the odds?

The surprising story here, though, is how Turner survived 15 oppressive years as a battered wife. Of growing up in a fragmented Southern family, where her mother all but admits she did not want Turner as a child (born Anna Mae Bullock). Turner is less ambivalent about the subject, ". . . I had no love from my mother or father from the beginning, from birth."

Ike Turner is generously quoted. He materializes like a man whose psyche is frozen in time; eerily devoid of reproach. His derisive comments today of their 1961 marriage set the tone for the Turner's future together: "It wasn't really no marriage. We went down there (Tijuana) to see stuff . . . sex shows and whores. Hell, I was still married to some other woman; didn't get divorced . . . till 1974."

Overall, the writing is flat and languorous. But Turner's transformation transcends that, as she slowly gathers the strength (at first through chanting) to leave Ike Turner, a man who terrorized her and her children--sometimes with a gun.

While this book may aim for a pop audience, it will be appreciated by anyone who seeks inspiration.

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