Tarantula, Paperback
2 out of 5 (1 rating)


Written in 1966, 'Tarantula' is a collection of poems and prose that evokes the turbulence of the times in which it was written, and gives a unique insight into Dylan's creative evolution. 'The good samaritan coming in with the words "round & round we go" tattoed on his cheek / he tells the senator to stop insulting the lawyer.' 'Tarantula' captures Bob Dylan's preoccupations at a crucial juncture in his artistic development, showcasing the antic imagination of a folk poet laureate who was able to combine the humanity and compassion of his country roots with the playful surrealism of modern art.

Angry, funny and strange, the poems and prose in this collection reflect the concerns we find in Dylan's most seminal music: a sense of protest, a verbal playfulness and spontaneity, and a belief in the artistic legitimacy of chronicling everyday life and eccentricity on the street. 'Tarantula' never made its publication date in Autumn 1966.

To the delays added by Dylan's constant revisions was added the greater complication of his motorcyle accident - which left him with still undisclosed injuries and kept the book from publication until 1971. In the interim, it became a cult phenomenon, with 'bookleg' editions photocopied from reviewer proofs circulating throughout the musical and literary demi-mondes.

Reissued to coincide with the paperback release of 'Chronicles Volume 1', 'Tarantula' will finally find the wider audience it deserves.




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Dylan is the greatest musical artist of the 20th century and the best of his lyrics are some of the great poems of the period but this 'novel' is poor. Essentially an extended version of the sleevenotes for his fourth, fifth, and sixth albums, the long form leads to a lack of focus which ensures that nothing memorable emerges. There are quotes from the sleeve of <i>Bringing It all Back Home</i> which I can recall twenty years after first reading them, I just finished this and can't remember anything. Dylan can write prose as <i>Chronicles</i> shows, but for a slimmed down a far superior version of what's in <i>Tarantula</i>, check out his wonderful poem <i>Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie</i>.

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