This overlong biography of Dylan (ne Robert Zimmerman) leads up to a thin, 25-page section on his life following his conversion to Christianity in 1979. Preceding are some 526 cliche-ridden pages on his youth in Minnesota, early stardom as a folksinger, 1965 metamorphosis with Highway 61 Revisited and the Newport Folk Festival, relationships, marriages, children, drink and drugs, ill-conceived tours and lazy recording-studio habits, bitter friendships and unabashed opportunism. There's lots of gossip, some sophomoric analysis and a whole mess of preposterous descriptions (``the guys in the Band were frisky little devils''). Spitz ( Barefoot in Babylon ) covers no new ground here, and writes in a mean-spirited manner, as elements of racism (``those big black mothers''; ``the ill-tempered greaseball'') and sexism (``the object of Dylan's affections was as devoted to him as a cocker spaniel in heat'') mingle freely with potshots at critics, the folk-music community, record buyers, John Lennon, David Bowie, Joan Baez, etc., along with Dylan himself. Photos not seen by PW . (Nov.)
``No matter what people think, they don't know anything about Bob Dylan,'' says Bob Dylan. But Spitz succeeds in letting us know something about this pop musician's life in the frank, engaging dialogue he provides here. Spitz seems bent on disproving much of Dylan's version of his own life through eyewitness accounts derived from interviews with hundreds of family members, friends, and associates of Dylan documented in 40 pages of notes. To a certain extent, this is an authorized biography. Even though Spitz did not want to ``embroider or become part of the legend,'' Dylan was allowed to examine and amend the manuscript in its late stages. A fine, fair assessment suitable for libraries with substantial popular music collections. Donald W. Maxwell, Noblesville-Southeastern P.L., Ind.