Bill Keithler's Reviews > Bob Dylan in America

Bob Dylan in America by Sean Wilentz
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's review
Aug 13, 2011

read count: 1

This book is a little slow to start but gradually picks up steam. It is more accurately a collection of essays, which address with varying success, the theme of painting Bob Dylan as a master absorber and re-former of numerous pieces of artistic arcana ranging from Aaron Copland (this is not very convincing) through black blues roots of a hundred years ago. The more interesting essays are in the second half of the book, where the author analyzes Dylan's twin set of folk albums of the early 90's (Good As I Been To You and World Gone Wrong) and demonstrates the songs as both antecedents of earlier Dylan works, and as precursors of Dylan's more recent works, focusing especially on 2001's Love and Theft. Critical analysis of Dylan's recent work is lacking and this fills a significant gap in Dylanology, addressing Dylan's Theme Time Radio show and his albums up to and including his Christmas album from last year.

While at times the writing can be slow and a little pedantic (the author is an Ivy League professor after all), it is a book worth reading if you are interested in Dylan and his place in American cultural history.
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