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3.29  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,208 Ratings  ·  173 Reviews

Bob Dylan wrote Tarantula in 1966. It existed for years only in dog-eared bootleg copies, but was eventually published in 1971. The book captures the tone and spirit of the turbulent times in which it was written.

Published (first published October 1966)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 23, 2014 Geoff marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 10, 2013 Ben rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
Brenda Moffitt
Jun 13, 2011 Brenda Moffitt 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  ·  review of another edition
Tarantula was a nostalgic trip through time and very interesting, it was really worth reading.
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
Jan 26, 2013 J.C. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dylan Popowicz
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
Dane Cobain
Apr 23, 2014 Dane Cobain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 14, 2016 serprex rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What a joke
Paul Siegell
May 06, 2010 Paul Siegell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
Isaac Jackson
Jan 15, 2016 Isaac Jackson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dylan's writing here is from his most experimental and recognizable. The surrealism of his mid-sixties trilogy of albums (Bringing it All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde) matches the tone of this book. In many places it surpasses the records expand. But whereas the songs of that period make frequent references to literature (Rimbaud, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Shakespeare), Dylan makes many references to musicians in his written text (Aretha is the name of a person , for instance) ...more
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".
Mar 27, 2012 Mik rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Felix Purat
As I'm sure was the case for many other people who read this book, I stumbled across it in a used bookstore back in Berkeley, California, and bought it because I'm a huge Dylan fan. I wonder whether I should have looked through it first before buying, though.

Dylan's poetry is pure free verse placed in a 50's American suburban blender and twisted around into who knows what; one one hand, Tarantula seems like a bastard offspring of the Beats while at the same time it seems to skip ahead of them a
Dec 17, 2008 Brett rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 20, 2008 Jacob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 28, 2008 Ken rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Diego Sánchez Pérez
Bueno yo soy un gran fanático de Dylan en cual es un artista extraordinario. Este vendría siendo su único libro escrito por él y es un conjunto de escritos bastante particular, como si se tratara de las letras de sus canciones. Este conjunto de relatos cortos me pareció bastante experimentales, aunque al mismo tiempo completamente fascinante. Esto ha sido una lectura bastante agradable escrito por alguien que las escribió durante su cima creativa en la parte musical en la cual fueron a mediados ...more
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.
Mateen Manek
If you're reading this, I advise you to borrow this book before deciding to purchase it.

This was probably the toughest book to get through. It's not poetry so much as it is creative writing. His writing is all over the place and it is very surrealistic. Reading it is like interpreting someones dream diary. Some of it makes no sense. It may be all metaphorical, but it's hidden very well.

I'm not bashing on the whole book; some of the 'poems' are well written and they make sense. I've starred those
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Bobby 1 29 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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