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The Dylanologists: Adventures in the Land of Bob Hardcover – May 13, 2014

4.3 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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  • The Dylanologists: Adventures in the Land of Bob
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Editorial Reviews


“Fascinating . . . Kinney’s tale of the peculiarly symbiotic triangle between Dylan obsessives, his music, and the inscrutable man himself poses some interesting conundrums. In one sense, the people who follow Their Bob around on tour, scrounge his unreleased studio recordings or buy the manger he was born in are like refugees from a Coen brothers reality show: ‘Inside the Hoarders of Highway 61.’ But there is also a tantalizing sense that Dylan, as hostile or plain indifferent to them as he might appear, has his reciprocal moments too.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“Entertaining and well-written . . . The Dylanologists is as much a book about obsession—about the ways our fascinations manifest themselves, about how we cope with what we love but don’t quite understand—as it is a book about a musician and his nutty fans.” (The Wall Street Journal)

“The book, a compelling study of Dylan’s most fervent and studious fans, is always lively and sometimes funny, but Kinney never finds humor at the expense of the obsessives he profiles. By presenting sympathetic, respectful portraits of people who were inspired by Dylan to write, read, travel, archive, and rethink their lives, Kinney gives us a new way to think about one of the most thought about men of the twentieth century. . . . What’s more exciting is the way The Dylanologists shifts the perspective of a well-known history: Kinney recounts an important artist’s excursions into electric guitar, Christianity and even Christmas carols not for the purpose of examining what these periods mean to Dylan’s life or artistry, but what they mean for the lives and artistry of the people who experienced them. By celebrating these merits—be they the ingenuity to cull incredible collections or the wherewithal to reinvent oneself—Kinney’s subjects prove themselves more creative than kooky.” (The Chicago Tribune)

“Fascinating . . . Illuminating . . . Deeply reported.” (John Dickerson, Slate)

“By getting his subjects to talk about the moment, often years past, in which they were swayed by Dylan’s music, Kinney humanizes the archetype of the pop junkie. . . . Most of the fans that Kinney talks to aren’t fools or stalkers. They have simply developed an usually strong affinity for an artist and his music. . . . Kinney’s own fandom seems to have lapsed a bit into skepticism, yet he never mocks the continued devotion of those who still believe.” (Ian Crouch, The New Yorker)

“[A] must-read book . . . While there are countless books about Bob Dylan’s life and music, Kinney approaches Dylan from a different angle—the followers, scholars and kooks.” (New York Post)

“In Kinney’s hands, what might have been a fans-only romp becomes instead a surprisingly touching mosaic of stories about the meanings that people (even Dylan himself) seek so energetically from art and artists.” (Pacific Standard)

“Entertaining . . . While there’s no shortage of Dylan biographies or analyses of his work, The Dylanologists offers an interesting examination of Dylan’s cultlike band of followers who seem to put their lives on hold while dedicating themselves to the performer and his music. Fans will certainly enjoy this book, but so, too, should readers who seek a fascinating examination of a strange subculture.” (The Associated Press)

“Juicy . . . Artfully told . . . The Dylanologists is an often moving chronicle of the ecstasies and depravities of obsession.” (New York Daily News)

“What’s worse, waking up an alcoholic or waking up as the editor of a Bob Dylan fanzine? . . . David Kinney’s The Dylanologists is the best book about music that has nothing to do with music. By holding a mirror up to the obsessives, the completists, the weirdos and the garbologists (those who literally go through Dylan’s bins looking for clues), Kinney provides the final word on the tragi-comedy of intense, unrelenting fandom . . . [and] reveals that Dylan himself is actually a red herring; what Dylanologists are actually after is a meaning in their own lives.” (The Irish Times)

“Outrageous . . . Truly fascinating . . . Perhaps the only thing more inscrutable than Bob Dylan is the cavalcade of misfits and muckrakers that parade through this earnest exploration of the artist’s even more curious brand of devotees. . . . Alternately funny, intriguing, and shocking.” (Kirkus Reviews)

The Dylanologists is about people who care deeply about Bob Dylan—some obsessively, following him, studying him, as a central and powerful touchstone of meaning and guidance in their lives. Their fixations might seem quaint, even absurd, but David Kinney allows these people their genuine and hard-earned profundity. As we learn about their lives and thoughts, we also learn about Dylan’s, with insights that are compassionate, good-humored, troubling and revelatory, and that feel humane and accurate. This is a valuable and original contribution to the essential literature about a valuable and original artist. It’s also an absolutely pleasurable read.” (Mikal Gilmore, author of Shot in the Heart)

The Dylanologists is a wonderful book—well written, insightful, and smartly reported. In chronicling Bob Dylan’s fans, David Kinney provides a clear-eyed portrait of the artist and the country that created him.” (Jonathan Eig, author of Luckiest Man)

“We have come to the metafictional stage of Dylan historiography—books not so much about the man as about his fans, his sources, his very relics. Kinney’s is fascinating, from his portrait of a pharmacist who has schemed to purchase not only Dylan’s childhood home but his high chair, to fans who somehow appear in the first row at every show. These are spooky sketches of a fringe culture in the twenty-first century, a world that could only exist because of Bob Dylan.” (Daniel Mark Epstein, author of The Ballad of Bob Dylan)

Praise for The Big One: An Island, an Obsession, and the Furious Pursuit of a Great Fish

“Mr. Kinney … takes up his story with an enthusiasm that more closely resembles that of an embedded war correspondent.” (The Wall Street Journal)

“A rollicking account of the annual striped bass and bluefish derby on Martha’s Vineyard, spiked with the you-are-there view of the beauty, folly, and humanity of the participants. Kinney follows some of the most intriguing personalities, does a bit of fishing, and documents the at-times tricky relationship between the blue-collar derby participants and the well-to-do seasonal residents of the island.” (Forbes)

“Who knew a book about a fishing tournament could be so damn compelling?” (Deadspin)

“Fish fan or not, you will find the narratives and characters in The Big One rich and intriguing and weird and wonderful. A great read and a great tale.” (Susan Orlean New York Times best-selling author of Rin Tin TIn)

The Big One is a rollicking true story of a grand American obsession. You don’t have to be a fisherman to relish David Kinney’s marvelous account of the annual striper madness on Martha’s Vineyard, or his unforgettable portraits of the possessed. It’s a fine piece of journalism, rich with color and suspense.” (Carl Hiaasen New York Times best-selling author of The Downhill Lie)

“Catching a fish off a Vineyard beach at Derby-time is about as much fun as you can have with waders on, and in The Big One David Kinney nails the chase and captures the thrill. His book is funny, brackish and moving. A keeper.” (Michael Bamberger senior writer, Sports Illustrated)

About the Author

David Kinney is the author of The Dylanologists and The Big One. A Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, his writing has appeared in newspapers around the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (May 13, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451626924
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451626926
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #568,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bornintime VINE VOICE on May 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I've read about 60 books on Bob Dylan in the past 3+ decades. You see I have been stricken with a mild case of the disease that the subjects of this book suffer from (not that mild I suppose since I have a couple/few hundred Dylan discs in my house). I've gotten better in the sense that I have little desire to read more books about Bob. Most books about Dylan fall into a couple categories - either a biography (read Heylin's updated Behind The Shades and be done with bios) or else some author's tedious explanation of what they think the songs mean or how good the shows are. Who cares? Everyone brings their own interpretation to the songs and your view is just as good as Greil Marcus's. Except yours might actually be somewhat based on reality.

But this book is different. It talks about the fringe followers - the people who obsess over Bob - who love him, love his work, buy every album and bootleg, follow him on tour, stalk him, collect windows from his boyhood home, possess screws from a Big Pink piano. It is so refreshing to read about real people with real experiences rather than rehashed biographical data and opinions. People who have actually met the man or who live for the next show or cd release. What is interesting to me is how the reader, if he is a Dylan fan, will automatically compare their own suspect behavior to the people in this book. I find myself thinking things like: "Yeah, I've done that" or "I wish I did that" or " That may have been a little much - but I kind of understand".

The author said somewhere that he could have made this book 1000 pages. The biggest compliment I can pay him is to say that I wish that he did.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The Dylanologists: Adventures in the Land of Bob" authored by award winning music writer David Kinney was an unexpected intriguing read. The topic of exuberant scholars, professors, fans/followers totally obsessed with Bob Dylan that dedicate their lives to listening and analyzing his music, collecting bootleg tapes and other miscellaneous objects, scraps of paper- anything Dylan, stalking him- going to all his concerts, living their lives to meet him or have him notice/speak to them. Though Dylan's music will be likely remembered hundreds of years from now, many of the more serious fans detailed and profiled in the book were both fascinating and disturbing.

Kinney writes historically of Dylan: from the shrine of his hometown in Hibbing, MN where fans congregate, early music career and concerts beginning in the 1960's to current times. It was interesting to learn that the historic 1969 Woodstock Festival was planned around a hopeful appearance of Dylan who lived in Woodstock at the time. Dylan's inspiration of Woody Guthrie's music was also noted, as was the folk, country, blues, rockabilly influences.

Dylan has always remained elusive and somewhat mythical to fans, insisting that he wasn't who people thought he was, did not have anything important to say specifically to them beyond what was recorded in his music. He routinely changed his life situations, beliefs, ideas projected to fans, many theorized to "head trip", mess with fans, and avoid being known. He always refused to elaborate or define himself. Dylan, a private person, was overwhelmed by his millions of "strange", obsessed, and "needy" fans who wanted and demanded so much from him. Dylan didn't want to be a spokesperson or responsible for anyone but himself. Throughout the book, his fans consistently made Dylan and his music the center of their universe, this is unlikely to change.
Many thanks to Simon and Schuster for this engaging read from the Goodread's Giveaways.
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This is the best book on Dylan and popular culture I have ever read. Kinney brilliantly details Dylan’s creative genius from his childhood through the present by interweaving the stories of a wide assortment of obsessive fans – some brilliant and some close to lunatics.

I think the great message of the book is that we should enjoy the wonderful music that Dylan has given us and allow him his privacy to live a safe and peaceful life.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dylanolgoists...An interesting read...I for one have been listening to Dylan since Slow Train Coming then went back and forward since...along the way I myself was involved in the Dylan live concert trading community may have listened to 100s of his shows and often wondered why myself...this book goes beyond other people's obsessions or gives you glimpse in what they saw/heard in Bob Dylan as well...I've always thought his unreleased music is his better music and again wondered why...this book offers some answers to all that and to share experiences with other Dylanologists...I will say this book is unique in it's subject matter...if you want a bio of the man there's so many now it's almost ridiculus, but some are better than others, but I would recommend this book to anyone who collects things on Dylan or has spent a lot of time listening to his music and going beyond the regular CDs...you will get glimpses from states of Dylan obsession and the book encourages you strongly to consider his very latest music and not to close the book on Dylan around 2002 like some may suggest, the book on Dylan is still open far as i'm concerned and I do strongly recommend this book to other Dylan-o-logists...i'm not certain if a fair weathered fan would enjoy this book.
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