October 24, 2004

A writer admires a writer he identifies with.

Tom Carson has a deft essay on Bob Dylan's "Chronicles," in the NYT Book Review. Carson writes elaborate start-and-stop sentences full of interesting ideas. Here are a few that jumped out at me:
Yet the man only had to grow an emaciated ant colony under his nose to get me regressing into speculation about his motives -- or, at any rate, thinking How strange instead of Wow, we're both geezers.

Even more gnomic and less rewarding was those liner notes' unreadable amplification in his ''novel'' -- ah, remember when the term ''novel'' conferred cachet? -- ''Tarantula,'' published in 1971 but written much earlier.

At once naive and wily, the diction summons up the hobbledehoy eagerness, skeptical wit and odd hardscrabble decorum of a half-remembered, half-concocted native idiom with such verve that you can scarcely tell the genuine colloquialisms from the ones he's just made up.

As self-serving as ''Volume One'' is, not to mention coy -- unless I seriously misremember his marital history, the nameless ''my wife'' of 1971 and her 1987 counterpart are two different people -- the sprays of language, cockeyed aphorisms and good anecdotes win out, with highlights ranging from Dylan's spilling the beans that his boyhood dream was to attend West Point to a charming description of the day he met -- and serenaded -- John Wayne in Hawaii, where the Duke was filming ''In Harm's Way.'

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