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3.28  ·  Rating Details ·  2,336 Ratings  ·  200 Reviews

Music legend Bob Dylan's only work of fiction—a combination of stream of consciousness prose, lyrics, and poetry that gives fans insight into one of the most influential singer-songwriters of our time.

Written in 1966, Tarantula is a collection of poems and prose that evokes the turbulence of the times in which it was written, and give
Paperback, 144 pages
Published October 19th 2004 by Scribner (first published 1971)
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(showing 1-30)
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Bookworm Sean
Oct 15, 2016 Bookworm Sean rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 4-star-reads
I have read some rather hilarious discussions over the last day across social media regarding Bob Dylan’s right, or lack thereof, to the noble literature prize.

One of the funniest was a rather lengthy post by an unnamed individual who defined “true literature.” According to his infinite wisdom, this excludes all poetry and song. You see, novels are the most complex form of literary expression because they are the longest and most thought out; therefore, Dylan isn’t literature. Another post clai
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Richy Publisher: How'd ya like to write a novel?
Bob Dylan: Dude, I would love to do some blow.

What a drag. Anyone who knows me even sort of well knows that I'm a HUGE Bob Dylan fan, so please don't think I read this in order to publicly hate it. Quite the contrary. If I'm in a terrible enough way, Dylan's one of only a handful of musicians I can listen to, and he always manages to set me back on the path to right-headed. I've even gone to see his feeble ass perform twice (he was actually standin
Anthony Vacca
What the mentally disturbed Dylanologists have never understood over the course of Zimmy’s six-decade spanning career is that to scour the man’s lyrics for hidden truths is a fool’s errand. It’s a simple trick to understand Bob Dylan, really: all you have to do is approach his lyrics at their apparent meaning. So when Dylan crows:

Well, the sword swallower, he comes up to you
And then he kneels
He crosses himself
And then he clicks his high heels
And without further notice
He asks you how it fee
Closing my Nobel Laureate reviews for this year with a contribution to my Irony Removal Course, with only a tiny bit of copy and paste, as I can not put it better than the cynical initial publishing house, worshipping mammon just as much as its rock star author.

The original publisher’s note speaks for itself:

“In the fall of 1966, we were to publish Bob Dylan’s “first book”. Other publishers were envious. “You’ll sell a lot of copies of that”, they said, not really knowing what THAT was, except t
K.D. Absolutely
Feb 07, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Veronica
Recommended to K.D. by: Angus Miranda
Bob Dylan has a beautiful mind.

He was said to be one of the strong contenders in last year’s Nobel Prize for Literature. “Huh? Bob Dylan is a poet?” We all know about his “Blowing in the Wind” popularized by Peter, Paul and Mary from the 60’s. My brother used to listen to his music although he preferred the other Bob, Bob Marley. So, whenever he listened to either, I had no choice but to listen also since there were no earphones at home when we were growing up. It was just a radio or cassette pl
Lola Nation
Apr 16, 2008 Lola Nation rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Tony Nesca
Recommended to Lola by: Ilene Lush
Bob Dylan can do anything.

See Excerpt, I think it was hysterical.

"…look you asshole – tho I might be nothing but a butter sculptor, I refuse to go on working with the idea of your praising my reward – like what are your credentials anyway? Except for talking about all us butter sculptors, what else do you do? Do you know what it feels like to make some butter sculpture? Do you know what it feels like to actually ooze that butter around & create something of fantastic worth? You said that my
Dec 23, 2014 Geoff marked it as to-read
So Ian Bell, whose Dylan bio is fucking amazing, and who gives no quarter at all on bullshit, has convinced me to give this another chance, because he sees merit in it. No doubt, it's still a failure, but he makes the argument that it's not near as bad as its detractors make it out to be (and not near as good as Dylan wanted it to be). Any case, I only rifled it before dismissing it. Bobby, I give you the benefit of the doubt on all doubts, so I'll see you on this one again. I'll also take the o ...more
Aug 10, 2011 Mark rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
dear mergatroid
if all i gotta do to be a big star is act naturally, then by next year i oughta be even bigger than roger miller! i heard the beatles didnt even get norwegian wood right until the 4th try. n while the heat pipes been coughin, i been checkin out the rainman from yesterday cryin downtown in the alley. sent me up like a rainy day woman he did. now, louise tells me some group called lovin spoonful are gonna be here next week with 1352 others, she says by the end of the year even the r
Jack Waters
Sep 18, 2011 Jack Waters rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
I will start by stating that I'm heavily biased, in that I adore Bob Dylan. His writing is like experimental jazz: on the fly, off the cuff, vibrant, rattles inside your bones, offers that warm-burn an extended hand toward a campfire provides. If you like his lyrics from the 60s (that's also the timeframe in which he wrote Tarantula), read this collection of poems and prose. It's as simple as that. A narrative description of the book is fruitless; it's a spontaneous work of poetic genius. Read i ...more
Jan 28, 2008 Ken rated it did not like it
Like any pretentious highschool Bob Dylan fan, at one point I actually assumed that this collection of poems not only made sense, but actually contained profound truths. Now that I've matured, I can see the humor in this error.
Oct 10, 2013 Ben rated it liked it
In “I Feel A Change Comin’ On,” a track from Dylan’s 2009 album, Together Through Life he sings, “I’m listening to Billy Joe Shaver/And I’m reading James Joyce.” Perhaps he was lying here, or reflecting on the past, or singing in character, or maybe he later tried cultivating an appreciation for Joyce’s work, but in his 2004 memoirs, Chronicles, Volume 1 (there is still no volume 2, though it is much anticipated), Dylan writes: “James Joyce seemed like the most arrogant man who ever lived, had b ...more
Aug 18, 2009 Tiffany rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetic-language
Bob Dylan is all about the compounding of words. After I read this book, I headed to university. People have dry-erase boards on their doors for messages in rooming houses for students, probably in residences, too. Every night while everyone was out at the bars, I would write Tarantula-esque letters to people on their boards. It got to be a thing, and people really looked forward to their weird letters. Some others got so into it, they too started the trend. When I read this book, I couldn't hel ...more
Dec 07, 2009 Erin rated it liked it
i find that its absolute nonsense is the reason why i enjoy this book, its the rhythm...the tone...the juxtaposition of words that i enjoy...its unlike anything ive read...i love dylan and anyone else who enjoys dylan from the sixties i would recommend this book to. if he wanted it to be a clear cut story he woulda written one...but this rant has so much more to it.
Dec 17, 2008 Brett rated it did not like it
This book sucks, I think Bob wrote it on the toilet when he was on acid and then accidently sent it in to a publisher. They must have thought Bob Dylan = instant money on sales. Wrong. Love the man's music, this book sucks. This is coming from someone that owns 31 of his albums and loves his stuff too.
Jun 13, 2011 Brenda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: LSD dropping geniuses
CAUTION: THIS BOOK IS NOT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY. So said Bob Dylan. If you try to make sense of it, your skull will crack open, grey matter will slither out and run down the street, leaving your brainstem flapping a frantic goodbye.
Rebecca McNutt
Jun 25, 2015 Rebecca McNutt rated it really liked it
Tarantula was a nostalgic trip through time and very interesting, it was really worth reading.
Sep 16, 2013 Annabelle rated it liked it
what can I say? if you want a book that makes any logical sense, don't buy this. But if you're a fan of bob dylan with good humour and a sense of the ridiculous then you'll find it hilarious.
Igor Jedinák
"Básníci a spisovatelé nám říkají jak se cítíme, tím, že, nám říkají, jak se cítí oni. Znají totiž spůsob, jak vyjádřit něco, co my vyjádřit neumíme. Někdy nám říkají pravdu a někdy nám naopak lžou, aby zachránili naše srdce před puknutím."
Jul 18, 2014 Melanie rated it it was ok
The second star is given only because I love Bob Dylan. I mean, l o v e Dylan. The music, the multiple personas, the mystery. Chronicles, Vol. 1 is one of the most influential books on my teen years. I'm Not There (2007) is one of my absolute favorite films. I even love his weird gospel period.

And I can't love this.

I tried. My eyes glazed over the third or so prose poem that read like a rejected song off of The Times They Are A-Changin', but I persevered. Pretty soon I was moving over the short
Dylan Popowicz
Jul 24, 2011 Dylan Popowicz rated it it was ok
An interesting piece of writing from one of the more interesting characters in history. This will not floor you (it didn't me), it will not allow you to rethink literature as a whole, it definitely falls short of being thought of as a "novel" (even if you put it in the same category as Burroughs' Naked Lunch it still falls short of the feel of a "whole book") . . . it's just Bob, being Bob, sometimes trying a little too hard, sometimes letting fiery pieces of freshly-formed diamonds come to ligh ...more
Jan 26, 2013 J.C. rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Dylan fans,
Shelves: poetry
As a Dylan fan I gave it a three. As a person who's not overly fond of poetry (believe me I've tried to change that) I'd rather give it a zero. If it was anyone else I would have. Reading this is like reading poetry by someone who's taken tons of acid and tried to pretend he was Allen Ginsberg. Not to say Dylan did just that, but it's clear that his poetry is nothing like his song lyrics. At least what we see's a scrambled mess, totally incoherent and unfocused, and to be honest I thi ...more
Dane Cobain
Apr 23, 2014 Dane Cobain rated it really liked it
Bob Dylan, a poet – who knew? The people’s folk singer has been described as a poet by literally thousands of different people across the years, but this exciting piece of work is much more experimental than the simple rhythm of his lyrics. You can sense the influence of Allen Ginsberg and his fellow beat authors, as well as what I can only assume was a sizable handful of hallucinogenics.

In all honesty, if I’d read this without knowing it was Dylan, I would’ve enjoyed it. It might not be for eve
Jun 26, 2011 Charity rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dylan-centric
This was just an incredibly bad collection of poems and prose poems that Dylan wrote in the '60's under loads of pressure to deliver a book that he'd been paid an advance on almost 3 years prior to publication. Unreadable comes to mind here. I did not have high expectations going into reading this collection, but could not have been prepared for just how bad it was. I really hope that in his current book deal he is not considering publishing any more poems. I don't know if both he and the publis ...more
Paul Siegell
May 06, 2010 Paul Siegell rated it it was amazing
"MAMMOTH NOAH & the orient marauders all on the morality rap & Priest of Harmony in a narrow costume--he's with the angels now & he says "all's useless-useless" & Instinct, poet of the antique zenith--putting on his hoofs & whinnying "all's not useless--all is very signifying! " & the insane pied piper stealing the Queen's Pawn & the conquering war cry "neither-neither" & jails being cremated & jail in I fall' g & newly arrived spirits digging-digging thei ...more
Mar 27, 2012 Mik rated it it was amazing
I love this book. The fact it is total nonsense and craziness is why i love it - this is the book i grab when i want to escape reality, it's like a drug in book form. Don't try and find some deeper meaning - it is just a mind trip, not meant to be taken seriously.. Take it for what it is and enjoy the ride.
I suppose it's worth noting i am a huge Bob Dylan fan so i am very biased.
Jul 20, 2008 Jacob rated it liked it
Shelves: rockstars
Weird, though expectedly so. More interesting than good. If I were less of a Dylan fan it would probably only get two stars; if I were a Dylan completist it may have gotten four. If you like his older albums and his historical significance you'll probably get a kick out of this.
Lăcră Grozăvescu
I think I need a Bob Dylan Dictionary in order to understand at least half of this , but I guess it s true ,"Those who are great can t be understood".
Vincent Lucarelli
Jul 17, 2016 Vincent Lucarelli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The genius of Bob Dylan on full display. Only one person could write a book like this.
Jan 14, 2016 serprex rated it it was ok
What a joke
Nov 01, 2016 Dylan rated it liked it
Shelves: music
Sometimes I get locked in, to a particular mood, memory, thought cycle or poison headache. Like a fevered dream that immediately disappears upon on waking, but leaves you with the rush and noise and colour of fast motion. Tarantula is that fevered dream, and sometimes I need to be locked in, but not as often as I would need to hear "Tambourine Man", or "Visions of Johanna", or "Shelter From The Storm" or "Desolation Row" or the snare shot kick that opens "Like A Rolling Stone", or the dense sax ...more
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Bobby 1 30 Jan 01, 2008 08:50AM  
  • The Essential Interviews
  • Bob Dylan: A Biography
  • Bob Dylan Performing Artist 1960-1973 The Early Years
  • Million Dollar Bash: Bob Dylan, the Band, and the Basement Tapes
  • The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia
  • Rolling Thunder Logbook
  • Revolution in the Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan, 1957-1973
  • A Simple Twist of Fate: Bob Dylan and the Making of Blood on the Tracks
  • No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan
  • Bob Dylan in America
  • On the Road with Bob Dylan
  • The World of the Short Story: A Twentieth Century Collection
  • Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads
  • Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan
  • Highway 61 Revisited
  • Dylan's Visions of Sin
  • Early Work, 1970-1979
  • A Spaniard in the Works
Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman) is an American singer-songwriter, author, musician, poet, and, of late, disc jockey who has been a major figure in popular music for five decades. Much of Dylan's most celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when he became an informal chronicler and a reluctant figurehead of American unrest. A number of his songs, such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times T ...more
More about Bob Dylan...

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