Friday, October 13, 2006

writing pad, lesson two: reviewing as storytelling

Greil Marcus is brilliant at taking an album and turning its songs, lyrics, and themes into a narrative -- he reviews the work by presenting it as a story. The tricky thing about this process is that to fully appreciate his review, you may need to be familiar with the album already.

Of all his pieces, this may be my favorite: his glowing review of Bob Dylan's magnificent Love and Theft. He writes the piece as the story of an old man (Dylan) who lives in town who no one really knows. Along the way, Marcus references the songs as clues to the old man's secret passions and sorrows. Anyone who loves the album will find that Marcus has recreated the experience of hearing it for the first time, unraveling its many pleasures.