Thursday, May 14, 2020

Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan

Chronicles: Volume OneChronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Chronicles provides a look at the inside Dylan, but you have to work for it. Dylan moves around without being very specific on dates through most of the book. He does refer to historical moments to provide some context, but few. He loved Woody Guthrie. He liked staying with folks who would give him a free place to stay. His descriptions of the people he knew were esoteric and often confounding. Here he talks about Bono of U2

"One night, Bono, the singer from U2, was over for dinner with some other friends. Spending time with Bono was like eating dinner on a train - feels like you're moving, going somewhere. Bono's got the soul of an ancient poet and you have to be careful around him. He can roar 'til the earth shakes. He's also a closet philosopher. He brought a case of Guinness with him. We were talking about things you talk about when you're spending the winter with somebody - talked about Jack Kerouac."

The overriding sentiment I took away from the book was how Dylan abhors the fame that his success brought him. He didn't want to be a symbol or prophet or any of the labels that people tried to assign to him. He just wanted to write and play music and be around others that did the same. He wanted to be a family man and enjoyed being at home, eschewing the glitter and raucous adulation that many seek. He is a more complex man than some give him credit for, but doesn't want to be defined by any component of his complexity. He mainly just wants to be left alone.

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Thursday, March 05, 2020

The World We Knew by Alice Hoffman

The World That We KnewThe World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm not usually a reader of books with magic, sorcery, or religious mysticism so the fact that I chose this book and enjoyed it so completely is a real departure for me. Alice Hoffman is a consummate writer, blending character, plot, setting, and emotion into a deeply moving reading experience.

A Jewish mother's love for her daughter at the onset of World War II in Germany impels Hanni Kohn to seek out a Rabbi's help to protect her young daughter, Lea. When she's turned away by the Rabbi's wife, the Rabbi's daughter, Ettie, performs the ancient, biblical ritual to create a golem (Ava) that will protect Lea from the ravages of German persecution. The story follows Lea, Ava, and Ettie as they seek escape into Paris, France, find strength, love, and heartbreak, and deal with the sometimes cruel, sometimes joyful, paths that they each must follow.

Highly recommended. The audio narration by Judith Light is excellent.

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