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3.27 of 5 stars 3.27  ·  rating details  ·  1,837 ratings  ·  147 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.

Paperback, 348 pages
Published March 22nd 2007 by Feltrinelli (first published October 3rd 1966)
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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...more
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 3 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Lola Nation
Apr 16, 2008 Lola Nation rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
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.
Probably the best argument against stream-of-consciousness writing out there. Let's hear it for that thing in our heads that puts the filter on what comes out. With apologies to Andre Breton, people really aren't that interested, nor should they be, in the detritus of our imaginations.

And, no, I didn't (couldn't) read the whole thing.
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...more
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
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...more
Jan 26, 2013 J.C. rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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 here....it'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
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
Jack Waters
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
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...more
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
"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
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...more
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.
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.
Jun 13, 2011 Brenda rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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.
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.
Vincent Lucarelli
The genius of Bob Dylan on full display. Only one person could write a book like this.
Mateen M
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...more
I have no idea what the f*** this book is about.
I have been listening to Dylan since I was 12 and I am already lost for words as to describe his genius. Since discovering his writing in the sleeve notes to his earlier stuff I was amazed by his writing. Then, I found Tarantula. This adds a whole new dimension to his work as an artist and a poet. I am amazed at how he managed to keep his momentum to finsh the book considering that he was writing it during and after his non-stop touring of the mid 60's which ended, fortunately or unfortunately d...more
Okay, I’m relieved to see I’m not the only one who did not get what this book was about. I would not call myself a Bob Dylan fan (I went to one of his performances, but I don’t own any of the albums, and I’m familiar with only about half a dozen of the songs). But I am aware that he is a significant songwriter with some important things to say. So I thought that with Tarantula I’d be getting something comparable to other books by popular musicians (John Lennon’s In His Own Write or Patti Smith’s...more
As a Bob Dylan fanatic, and also having read some less than enthusiastic reviews of this book from the time it was published, i came to Tarantula gladly but somewhat hesitantly. I cannot say that it adds up to anything at all and seems to be a Burroughs-esque cut-up and think aloud experiment that doesn't really amount to anything in the end.
For Bob Dylan freaks and completists only.

UPDATE: I just got through listening to a press conference Bob gave in R...more
I have always been a huge an of Dylan—ever since a teacher showed me "It's a Hard Rain's a-gonna Fall" in the 8th Grade—and Tarantula is exactly as poignant.
Of course, the stream-of-consciousness style is hard for some, but I would advise simply taking it with a grain of salt and interpreting it as you see fit; there are no wrong answers.

The stories have their fair share of humor, tragedy, and lessons to teach, one only needs to search for them.
This slim volume is interesting chiefly because it is the work of Bob Dylan. No; allow me to revise that. For "chiefly," substitute "solely."

In the mid-60s, Dylan was a star, hailed as a prophet, and very young. He got a book deal. His editors and publishers didn't care what they got as long as it was Dylanesque. They got this. It was Dylanesque, all right.

Tarantula is the work of a young man who was very much out of his depth. Interesting at times for snippets that later became lyrics (the sun...more
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Bobby 1 26 Jan 01, 2008 08:50AM  
  • Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades Revisited
  • No Direction Home: The Life And Music Of Bob Dylan
  • Bob Dylan in America
  • Bob Dylan: A Biography
  • On the Road with Bob Dylan
  • Scattered Poems
  • Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan
  • A Freewheelin' Time: Greenwich Village in the Sixties, Bob Dylan and Me
  • Highway 61 Revisited
  • A Spaniard in the Works
  • The Old, Weird America: The World of Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes
  • Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña, and Richard Fariña
  • Complete
  • The Lords and the New Creatures
  • Dylan's Visions of Sin
  • Death and Fame: Last Poems, 1993-1997
  • Flowers for Hitler
  • The Ballad of Bob Dylan
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
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