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DYLAN & ME

50 YEARS OF ADVENTURES

An earnest account of a friendship featuring anecdotes of celebrity encounters.

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In an episodic debut memoir, Kemp, with Friedman (Cowboy Logic, 2006, etc.), recalls his lifelong friendship with a world-famous musician.

In 1953, when he was 11, Kemp went to summer camp in northern Wisconsin and met Bobby Zimmerman, a confident 12-year-old who carried a guitar around and told everyone he would grow up to be a rock star. Zimmerman, of course, later changed his name to Bob Dylan, left his Midwestern roots behind, and found fame and fortune in New York City. Kemp poses the book’s driving question early on: “What happens when your closest friend from childhood becomes one of the most famous people in the world, seemingly overnight?” The book’s answer: Keep him close. As Kemp colorfully details, their bond was never over music but shared memories of youth and the easy affection of childhood friendship. Thanks to “Bobby,” Kemp rubs elbows with celebrities. As such, the book offers numerous cameos, as when Kemp visited Dylan on the Mexico set of the Sam Peckinipah–directed film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, met musician/actor Kris Kristofferson, and went on a road trip through the country with actor Harry Dean Stanton. Overall, this book offers readers a remarkable look at the nature and meaning of a friendship that lasts through the years, and, throughout, Kemp tells of how he admires and cherishes Dylan’s talent without coveting it. Still, he can’t help comparing himself to his friend: “Bobby had become Bob and had started changing the world,” the author writes. “I had built up a very successful fish business. Not bad for two small town dropouts!” That said, the author does seem overeager to establish bona fides with name-dropping at times; at Dylan’s shows and on tours, including the 1975-1976 Rolling Thunder Revue, which he produced, Kemp tells of meeting Cher, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, and other dignitaries of 20th-century popular music. The tone of Kemp’s writing is nostalgic and warm, if mostly reportorial; fortunately, this strategy works well for the material, and the presence of Dylan, a vital and enigmatic figure, gives the book a charge that the prose itself sometimes lacks.

An earnest account of a friendship featuring anecdotes of celebrity encounters.

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73300-121-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Westrose Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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