Would someone who knew next to nothing about Bob Dylan find this memoir compelling? Probably not. The chronological gaps are too cavernous, and vital background information is fleeting at best. This is a book that will resonate only with people who already know Dylan’s story and who will appreciate his elliptical improvisations on a shopworn biographical theme. At its best, Chronicles has a slightly crazed, slipshod lyricism that, like the weaker songs — and sometimes even the greatest ones — teeters on the edge of self-parody. But there are way too many stretches of hipsterish jive-talk and lazy hot air.
It’s nice to have this memoir, but some good new songs would be better.
CHRONICLES: Volume One | By BOB DYLAN | Simon & Schuster | 293 pages | $24 hardcover