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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 3 April 2017
This book is an interesting little read, because it’s Bob Dylan’s autobiography and the man has an impressive writing style that communicates his voice just as well as his songs do. It puts an interesting spin on the whole ‘celebrity autobiography‘ thing, because Dylan’s words have literary merit in their own right. In fact, didn’t he get awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature?

His writing style is reminiscent of (and inspired by) the Beat poets, who were active at the same time that Dylan was starting out. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a photo somewhere of Dylan hanging out with Allen Ginsberg. But Dylan’s voice is easier, more friendly – like listening to a friend as you sit around a fire drinking cans of beer.

It’s also interesting how he approached it. It’s a true memoir, jumping backwards and forwards through time as the author follows different trains of thought but maintaining a steady narrative throughout despite this. And I find it entertaining that it’s volume one, even though no volume two has been released to date. I wonder whether he’s still working on it, or whether this is the best that we’re going to get.

Overall, this probably won’t mean much to the average person, but if you’re a Bob Dylan fan – or a fan of music in general – then there are few better reads for getting such an intriguing insight. It’s fascinating to see behind the creative process and to learn more about what makes him tick. The Daily Telegraph went so far as to call it “the most extraordinarily intimate autobiography by a twentieth-century legend ever written”. I agree with them.
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on 10 March 2016
If, like me, you are expecting the first in a 'chronological' autobiography from Bob Dylan you will be disappointed. The book is actually a few stories/thoughts/moments picked out from Dylan's life/career.

These are interesting enough but without context, you need know a bit about Dylan's career in some depth before you start to get the most out of these. The one exception is the last chapter which has a more biographical style and is from the start of his career.

All of the book is well written and enjoyable, just not what I was expecting based on the description.

Also, when is the 2nd one coming out?
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on 13 September 2015
A fascinating, if at times meandering, read. Bob tells his story in his own way, selective musings, but great insights into moments in his life that aren't necessarily the ones we expect to hear. Surprisingly (and unusually for such a Star) generous about seemingly-minor players from his past, this a very honest and interesting insight into a very clever and ingenious person, who amazingly, sought to devalue his stardom to find some personal space and peace.
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on 15 June 2011
Here it is from the man himself. What wonderful prose that just f-l-o-w-s. Paints pictures with words - you share the presence. On my doorstep when I got home from work, I picked it up and read it in one session - literally, un-put-downable! I now have a deeper insight to the man that was an ever present influence in my life, and continues to be so. I read incessantly and this is one of the most beautiful works I have ever read. I wouldn't want immortality for myself, but I wish it on his Bobness because we and our descendants need him!
I sound like a nerd but Mr Zimmerman's work, once fully studied, can do that to you. His clarity of vision is crystal. He'll help you understand it all. Incidentally - once again supersonic delivery, at well under high street shelf price. Buy it and read it all - that's an order! I will be asking questions later.
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on 1 November 2009
I had been apprehensive about this book. Would it be the gobbledegook of Tarantula or some ghostwritten thing full of facts and regurgitated reminiscence about how he met his wife and so on. So, in the first place I was relieved to find that it was plainly the man's own work and that it was coherent. the delight came as I read on and found that what he was writing was making clearer to me the nature of his songwriting. Dylan remembers everything. In order to remember everything everything must have a similar kind of weight, whether abstract or concrete ("Inside the museum infinity goes up on trial // voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while"), and from this derives Dylan's particular kind of surrealism. Those great mid-60s albums all begin to make sense. great stuff.
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on 15 March 2007
Eminently readable, richly textured with americana, old blues and an idiosyncratic use of Language Bob Dylan's first [and only?] volume of memoirs has been written in a style whih leaves as many questions unanswered as any of the songs he has written. These are memoirs in the true sense of the word sudden flashes of illumination on parts of social and musical history that burn through the pages right down to the cover leaving the reader excited and perplexed. If you want to know who Bob Dylan IS this is not the book that will tell you - unless you construct him from numerous references, asides, recollections and name-checks. A book that nobody but Dylan could have written chronicling an age which, to his later fans, may be as weird and old as the world of The American Anthology of Folk Music summoned up with reference to The Basement Tapes by Greil Marcus.

Dylan writes his songs, it's been claimed, in one sitting. This book is a series of songs, some old, some new, some impenatrable but every one of them essential. Will we see a Chronicles II? Maybe only in The Bible - which may have been the source for the title of this small masterpiece. Read it.
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on 9 October 2004
This is Dylan in top form. If you like his songs then you'll like this book. Elliptical, poetic, with a seemingly simple surface but touching the same complex depths his best songs do. I'm not sure how someone who didn't 'get' Dylan in the first place would respond to the book, but even so, as a narative it still holds up.
The zig zag chronological order is occasionally puzzling, but builds to create a satisfying whole,. To me, each chapter felt like a track in an Dylan album - each varying in intent and style, but with an overall consistent authorial voice binding them together.
Indeed, some chapters I liked more than others, just like with his albums, and there were occasional really clunky or over-ripe bits that as a long time Dylan fan I immediately forgave.
The early 60's Grenwich Village descriptions, however, which act as a kind of recurring theme throughout the book, particularly those of the people he openly acknowledges influenced him, show the author and his world in a clear light, with a kind of disarming honesty reminiscent of JD Salinger's Holden Caulfield - a reference I imagine Dylan wouldn't be entirely insulted by.
Through it all, Dylan's sense of personal ambition is presented matter-of-factly but doesn't jar. His sense of his own separateness and a profound respect for previous culture and other artists work, seems in character for one who was to develop into such a unique artist themselves.
In fact it's as an 'artist' that the picture of Dylan emerged to me with greatest clarity, with plenty of insights into the nuts and bolts of artistic creation - the gritty business of making stuff. (The fact that he built his own furniture in his first apartment and can remember the brackets and timber to this day seems entirely appropriate for an artist that I have always considered a supreme technician.)
It's along time since I read a book right through in one sitting and I am looking forward to the other (supposedly two) editions.
Yes, he's poet and, thank God, he didn't blow it.
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on 30 September 2016
A mini masterpiece from the great man, I found his description of his early years fascinating. He hasn't done a second volume yet so maybe he has no plans for this, but I hope he does.
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on 14 June 2018
Good biography of Bob Dylan.
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on 23 May 2018
Top of the pops
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