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Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown (Icons of America Series) Hardcover – 3 Jun 2011
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"Writing with deep respect and affection for his subject, David Yaffe gives us an exhilarating tour of Bob Dylan's astonishing career. This book sings."-Brian Morton, author of Starting Out in the Evening -- Brian Morton "With a keen ear for Dylan's musical influences, vocal changes, and literary borrowings, David Yaffe captures the dramatic twists and turns of Dylan's creative life, especially his chamelon-like shifts of identity, his protean elusiveness."-Morris Dickstein, author Gates of Eden and Dancing in the Dark -- Morris Dickstein "Exhilarating reading...One finishes the book not with a diminished, but rather a much augmented and far more nuanced appreciation of Dylan's lifework...The voice is lively, witty, colloquial, endlessly comfortable...Dylan studies now bulks rather large; Yaffe's book promises to whip the field into a kind of shape."-Kevin J. H. Dettmar, Pomona College, editor of The Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan -- Kevin J.H. Dettmar "Steeped but not drowned in cultural studies, David Yaffe offers fresh and sometimes prickly insight about Bob Dylan's art. Yaffe reads closely and listens hard, and his book will have you saying, 'aha!' again and again."-Sean Wilentz, Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professor of History, Princeton University, and author of Bob Dylan in America -- Sean Wilentz "David Yaffe is to Bob Dylan what Andrew Delbanco is to Herman Melville and what Farah Jasmine Griffin is to Billie Holiday-a writer whose authority is so vast and whose thinking is so fresh that he makes reading about his long-familiar subject an act of discovery."-David Hajdu, Columbia University; author of Positively 4th Street -- David Hajdu "...fascinating for obsessives who think they know everything and want to know more." - Kirkus Reviews Kirkus Reviews "Mr. Yaffe has excellent chapters ... approaching at times the intensity of prose poetry."-David Yezzi, The Wall Street Journal -- David Yezzi The Wall Street Journal "... based on the depth and breadth of his knowledge exhibited in this book, [Yaffe] must actually be a full-time Dylanologist."-Minneapolis Star Tribune Minneapolis Star Tribune "[P]rovocative perceptions and stylish writing..."-The North Coast Journal The North Coast Journal "Yaffe] takes some risks a more established Bob scholar might shy away from ... and for such fearlessness - and for keeping it all to the point - [he] deserves our gratitude."-The Montreal Gazette The Montreal Gazette "... fun, funny, learned as hell as well as plain smart, and subjective in the best possible sense."-Guy Crucianelli, PopMatters -- Guy Crucianelli PopMatters "... a fascinating exploration of Dylan's music ... Highly recommended."-R.D. Cohen, Choice -- R.D. Cohen Choice "Yaffe's synthesis of scholarship and analysis shines."-Thomas Larson, Contrary -- Thomas Larson Contrary
About the Author
David Yaffe is assistant professor of English at Syracuse University and a music critic for the Nation. He is the author of Fascinating Rhythm: Reading Jazz in American Writing and Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell
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He titles his opening chapter, for example, after poet Philip Larkin's reference to Dylan's "cawing, derisive voice" on "Highway 61 Revisited". Yaffe wonders (and wanders) briefly about where to place Dylan among The Poets (including Ginsberg, Wallace Stevens and TS Eliot) before moving on to the Necessity of Dylan for enabling history to know such voices as Jimi Hendrix, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and Patti Smith. The certitude of the author's voice (that is, Yaffe's) is in little doubt here, but his theses will need more fleshing out for those new to studies of Mr. Dylan.
So, for example, from Yaffe one might bridge to further coverage on Dylan's (and Larkin's) "Songs, Poems and Rhymes" in Chistopher Ricks' 2005 volume "Dylan's Visions of Sin", and on to "The Ballad of Bob Dylan" by Daniel Mark Epstein for a longitudinal blend of biograph, political context and listener experience.