TARANTULA by Bob Dylan


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Folk singing has come a long way since Guthrie and Pete Seeger, as witness the tumultuous ascendancy of Bob Dylan. In fact, the whole thing can represent the great divide between the ""square"" generation and the ""hip."" For those who can't quite make out Dylan's plaintive lyrics, either at his concerts or on recordings, his collection of prose poems should prove helpful. Though they rarely survive a second reading, the initial impact is surprisingly satisfying. Dylan's an apt mixer: surrealism, Corso and Ginsberg, black humor, and especially the high-speed inventions of William Burroughs are the principal ingredients in this tarantula--like stew. The bite of the tarantula is supposed to cause tarantism, ""a nervous affection characterized by melancholy, stupor, and an uncontrollable desire to dance."" The definition, supplied by Webster, isn't a bad guide to what Dylan is about in his wacky, serio-comic improvisations which both satirize and excoriate the American scene. Interspersed between the long passages are short weird-o letters (probably a take-off on Herzog); the newsreel-type incidents, which touch on everything from politics, sex, drugs to Beau Geste and Tao, are alternately violent, hilarious, sad, and not infrequently obscure. In general, a ball while it lasts.

ISBN: 0743230418
Publisher: Macmillan