Books That Made a Difference to Sarah Vowell
By Bob Dylan
This memoir is obstinate, which is part of its charm. All the things a fan thinks she would want to read about—what it was like recording Blonde on Blonde, for instance—Dylan skips entirely. Instead he coughs up the sort of enchanting ephemera that adds up to a life of the mind, such as his youthful research into strange old songs about murder and disaster that led him to conclude that "folk songs are evasive." The revelation of the book, though, is Dylan's sweetness. If you mostly think of him as a cryptic songwriter or the sarcastic destroyer of journalists captured in the film Don't Look Back, there's something so endearing about the image he recounts here of the young Dylan hovering over a jukebox in Greenwich Village to listen to Judy Garland sing "The Man That Got Away" because it was like "listening to the girl next door."