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Baker's Dozen

A Life Turning Pages: Robert Forster's Favourite Books
Aug Stone , April 8th, 2020 09:22

The Go-Betweens founder takes Aug Stone through his 'eclectic even to himself' reading tastes

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Bob Dylan - Chronicles: Volume One
I'm a huge Dylan fan and I honestly didn't think he'd be able to pull this off. If you followed Dylan's prose before that, there was no proof he could do it. He'd written a book called Tarantula back in the 60s, which is like quite bad William Burroughs. Cut-up, blah blah blah, surrealistic, 'I'm sitting at a typewriter...', like something you'd write in college when you're 18. Like his lyrics, but his lyrics are better in the 60s and he's got tunes. He hadn't written anything since in terms of prose, so I was very intrigued. And then he pulls it off. He actually can write prose. It's in his idiosyncratic style, with Dylan it's all about firing off images. He shoots from the hip in his songs, so it's shooting from the hip but it's compact and it makes sense. It's very Dylan. The publishers must have thought (laughs) that they'd get like 'I was born in Duluth in 1941...', but it's not. It starts in bang! New York 1961 and then suddenly it jumps to the late 60s, totally unrelated to the first section. Then it's the 80's when he's making Oh Mercy down in New Orleans. There's no reason he does this, it's just chunks, and then the book ends with him going back to New York in the early 60's. So there's four sections that don't talk to each other at all and it's fantastic. Conceptually, it's brilliant. He's honest, to an extended degree. There's lots of games, lots of fun, and he writes beautifully. He reinvents the memoir just like that, just does it. I read it in 2004 when it came out. It's Chronicles: Volume One, and being Dylan, here we are in 2020 and Volume Two still hasn't arrived. That's the man.


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