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Saturday, May 14, 2005

dylan line drawing

Reviewing Dylan

Remarkable review by Luc Sante in The New York Review of Books, chiefly scrutinizing Chronicles, but also taking in Studio A, the Dylan Reader, Lyrics, and the ill-fated Tarantula.

It's a long piece and I've got to go thru it again to sort out why and where it impressed me so much - apart from the man's obvious learning and refusal to dumb down.

Here's a taste of Sante's style, in case he's not your cuppa

"Chronicles works so well in part because in writing it Dylan apparently found a formal model to adhere to or violate at will, and if he did not have in mind any specific nineteenth-century account of callowness and ambition, maybe he conjured up a cumulative memory of dusty volumes found on friends' bookshelves in Greenwich Village or in the basement of the bookshop in Dinkytown he worked in as a student. He also found an outlet for his inclination to counter his audience's expectations. Readers, guessing on the basis of interviews and movies as well as the hydra-headed mythic image that has grown around Dylan over the decades, might have expected his memoir to be variously inscrutable, gnomic, bilious, confused, preening, recriminatory, impersonal, defensive, perfunctory, smug, or even ghost-written. Instead Dylan had to outflank them by exercising candor, warmth, diligence, humor, and vulnerability. If there is ever a second volume, he may have to contradict himself yet again."

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