Half a century ago, a youth appeared from the American hinterland and began a cultural revolution. The world is still coming to terms with what he did. How he did it - and why - has never been fully explored.
In Once Upon a Time, award-winning writer Ian Bell draws together the tangled strands of the many lives of Bob Dylan in all their contradictory brilliance. For the first time, the laureate of modern America is set in his entire context: musical, historical, literary, political, and personal.
In this acclaimed book, full of new insights into the legendary singer, his songs, his life and his era, the artist who invented himself in order to reinvent America is uncovered. Once Upon a Time is a biographical study of a personality that has splintered and reformed, time after time, in a country forever struggling to understand itself. Dylan has become the puzzle that illuminates. Here, in the first part of a major two-volume work, the puzzle is explained.
Born, raised and educated in Edinburgh, Ian Bell is a past holder of the George Orwell Prize for Political Journalism and the award-winning author of Dreams of Exile, a biography of Robert Louis Stevenson. Formerly the Scottish editor of The Observer, he is a columnist with The Herald and the Sunday Herald.
“As knotty, beguiling, contrary, infuriating and ambitious as its subject ... the most vital Dylan biography yet.” (The Guardian)
“Bell's literary bent is his strength. He brings fresh insight into Dylan's verse.” (Scotland on Sunday)
“Bell's analysis is as sharp and intelligent as his award-winning political journalism. Definitely a ‘must-have’ Dylan book.” (The Herald)"
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Phil on 06-09-16
Painful and above all dull
You can only listen to this telling of Bob Dylan 's life for so long before either nodding off (don't listen when operating heavy machinery) or switching off the device.
Firstly, the author takes a scathing tone to anyone he encounters. He gleefully addresses their shortcomings before grudgingly accepting that they probably were a genius. This does take it's toll after a while.
Secondly, it's clear that the author got nowhere near to Bob Dylan in terms of contact. So instead he combs through interminable details of conjecture in what other people said or did, public records, newspapers. He spends ridiculous amounts of time pleasuring himself with fruitless philosophical arguments that result from this.
Finally, it is painfully slow. Painfully slow.
Avoid unless you are a hardcore Dylan fan.
3 of 6 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Dermot on 13-07-15
A life lived in music and role play
Excellent account of this most unique of celebrities and singer-song writer performers. His talent, his life lived hidden from the public behind his many personas. And the turbulent modern times he lived in. A beautiful written and crafted book: biography, literary criticism, socio-economc history of the USA, & metaphysical treatise. And well read by the narrator, who adds polish to the smart prose bringing the audio-experience to a bright sheen. Highly recommended to Dylan fans and anyone who enjoys beautifal and intelligent writing.