When The Deal Goes Down

1. I’ve given the new Bob Dylan album a few listens, and I like it a lot. Modern Times plays like Love and Theft Part Two — eclectic, rootsy high-shuffle beats, witty, aphoristic lyrics — and since I loved the earlier album this is hardly a complaint. For a taste of these lyrics, check out these excerpts on a blog dedicated, interestingly enough, to theological scholarship and faith.

Novelist Jonathan Lethem interviews Bob Dylan in the latest Rolling Stone, but it’s a mediocre and attenuated effort. Bob Dylan is a great bullshitter who can spin out long sequences of nonsense and make it all sound important; this is the game he’s played in a long career of interviews. A good Dylan interviewer must anticipate this and aim to get past Dylan’s basic bag of tricks, but Lethem’s interview (erroneously billed as “an intimate conversation”) simply solicits familiar stock answers from the old guy and goes no further than that. It’s a disappointingly short piece, and I wish Lethem had reached harder and asked some more unusual questions.

2. Some live events coming up in the New York City area: Ted Pelton, author of Malcolm and Jack, will be reading at Night and Day in Brooklyn on September 7 at 7 pm. A large contingent of writers concerned about the wars in the Middle East, including Diana Abu-Jaber, Edith Chevat, Robb Forman Dew, Masha Hamilton, Binnie Kirshenbaum, Bernie McFadden, Jim Sheperd, Joan Silber, Leora Skolkin-Smith and Katharine Weber, will be gathering at McNally Robinson Booksellers at 50 Prince Street on September 18th on behalf of Seeds of Peace (info here). Finally, USA Poet Laureate Donald Hall will be performing Sept 19 at City University of New York.

3. Goodbye to The Beiderbecke Affair, a worthy and well-illustrated blog that’s published its last post.

9 Responses

  1. 2 Personal PrejudicesWriters
    2 Personal Prejudices

    Writers would be better off organizing people to vote the status quo out of office but–history shows–reformers fail to do much better nor achieve much more. They should at least burn the flag or some other kind of street performance for media attention but a Communist victory, not self-immolation, was what ended the war in Viet-Nam.

    Beiderbecke Bye-bye: Blogging’s been fun, but you know it’s bogus when it prevents you from reading as many books as you want or from reviewing as many books as you want or, most importantly, from writing as many books as you want.

    The above is what I got against the ‘net, i.e., its ephemerality, viz., sure its online NOW but the internet isn’t the Library of Congress and if you write and aren’t read, it’s the same as mental masturbation.

    Ephemerality and change are the essence of existence but people don’t read books online now and I can’t imagine how they’ll read them off a phone.

  2. In fairness to
    In fairness to Lethem….

    …that’s not the whole interview. It mentions that on the bottom of the page. You have to get the magazine in order to read the whole thing. Rolling Stone’s website interviews are usually just teasers.

  3. king dylanyeah, he owns the
    king dylan

    yeah, he owns the sixties

    Actually I think the article is well written, but i’m only on page two. They also give the cd four stars. I’m anxious to steal it … actually I already have and something went awry burning it so I’ll try again soon and give it a listen. He’s certainly been a poet in our times and age is not a barrier for zimmy.

  4. exampleof what I liked”The

    of what I liked

    “The expressions on Dylan’s face, in person, seem to compress and encompass versions of his persona across time, a sixty-five-year-old with a nineteen-year-old cavorting somewhere inside. Above all, though, it is the tones of his speaking voice that seem to kaleidoscope through time: here the yelp of the folk pup or the sarcastic rimshot timing of the hounded hipster-idol, there the beguilement of the Seventies sex symbol, then again — and always — the gravel of the elder statesman, that antediluvian bluesman’s voice the young aspirant so legendarily invoked at the very outset of his work and then ever so gradually aged into.”

    I plan to finish the article

    So what are a few questions you would have asked ?

  5. Hi Situationist — well, I
    Hi Situationist — well, I bought the Rolling Stone and read the whole interview — it’s the whole interview that I’m commenting on here.

  6. Well, that’s not a bad
    Well, that’s not a bad paragraph, but this is supposed to be an interview, not a character study. Questions I would have asked: what time do you wake up in the morning and what do you eat for breakfast? Do you listen to hiphop? What’s your favorite reality TV show? Do you have any thoughts on the war in Iraq? How do you choose the setlist for each night’s show? Stuff like that …

  7. Oh, and … Lethem does ask
    Oh, and … Lethem does ask Dylan what baseball team he likes, which is the kind of question I like to ask, but this just shows that Lethem’s knowledge of Dylan is limited. It’s well known that Dylan is a Yankees fan … he once wrote a song about Catfish Hunter!

  8. Oops! Sorry Levi! hehehe. By
    Oops! Sorry Levi! hehehe. By the way, I bought it too. I tend to agree with you. I don’t think Lethem really asked penetrating questions. I’m wondering, do you think it would’ve done any good? Hahahah. I wonder if Dylan approached the interview differently since he was being interviewed by a prominent young novelist instead of a jaded music critic?

  9. Walter Matthau’s son also
    Walter Matthau’s son also rises

    i really think Mr. Dylan deserves his own entry, don’t you, Mr. Asher? what’s with this Random Notes review?

    jest goofin! i knew you’d be listening to it. i’m enjoying the up-tempo numbers, Thunder, Rollin, Someday. but basically it’s too bad the old coot’s no longer connected to the world we live in. we’ve got New Orleans, Iraq, the most corrupt & evil president in the history of our country, and all Bawb’s writing about is old girlfriends and those he wished he laid. this ain’t no Living With War — a record made this year by somebody still connected with Earth.

    Bawb’s become Walter Matthau in The Sunshine Boys — but don’t get me wrong, i love cranky & funny old men. and speaking of funny — you wanting to ask him about “reality TV”! i don’t think he’s seen a TV since they started broadcasting in color!

    and would somebody buy bob a hooker so the po’ boy can get laid and get onto something else for gawdsakes! or at least get him a bib! hey ma, grampa’s droolin agin!

    but i’m still here listenin to his stories. tell us the one about the levee breaking again, bob.

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Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!