As no other musician has ever been given the award, there’s been plenty of dissension about Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize in Literature. While his peers like Bruce Springsteen and Leonard Cohen spoke kindly of the win, folks from the literary crowd like Irvine Welsh and (posthumously) Kurt Vonnegut have been less supportive. But at least one novelist has come to the defense of The Bard: Stephen King.
In a new feature for Rolling Stone entitled “Why Bob Dylan Deserves the Nobel Prize”, King talked about his experience with the singer-songwriter and pointed to some lyrics he believes show why Dylan qualifies for the Prize. “The one I kept going back to was ‘Shelter From the Storm’,” wrote King. “That line ‘ravaged in the corn’ – can you imagine that on a record? It’s just a gorgeous line. And that refrain always struck me as sort of mystic: ‘Come in, she said/ I’ll give you shelter from the storm.’ That incremental repetition – I get goosebumps just thinking about it.”
He also defended “Desolation Row” against accusations of being “third-rate T.S. Eliot,” talked about how he personally used “Tangled Up in Blue” in an essay, and explained how hearing “Subterranean Homesick Blues” for the first time was “like being electrified.” In a silly aside, he recounted a story John Mellencamp told him about hanging with Dylan. “[Dylan] said, ‘Man, John, I got this terrible toothache. It’s killing me.’ John said, ‘Well, I’ve got some Advil.’ And Bob gave him this long look and said, ‘You trying to get me hooked?'”
Near the end, he took to task authors who questioned Dylan’s win. “People complaining about his Nobel either don’t understand or it’s just a plain old case of sour grapes,” King said. “I’ve seen several literary writers who have turned their noses up at the Dylan thing, like Gary Shteyngart. Well, I’ve got news for you, Gary: There are a lot of deserving writers who have never gotten the Nobel Prize. And Gary Shteyngart will probably be one of them. That’s no reflection on his work. You have to rise to the level of a Faulkner if you’re an American.”
Read the entire thing over at RS. After bailing on a White House meeting for Nobel laureates, Dylan will also miss the ceremony this Saturday, December 10th, because of a prior engagement. He did write a speech for someone to read, though, and Patti Smith will cover “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” in his stead.