Stephen King attacks Bob Dylan’s Nobel prize knockers

Guitar-playing horror legend speaks out against literary authors such as Gary Shteyngart and Irvine Welsh who have scorned the singers award

Stephen King has come to the defence of Bob Dylans Nobel prize for literature, accusing those who oppose the award of sour grapes.

According to King, no other musician has had such an impact on popular culture or remained so influential for so long as Dylan. In an interview with Rolling Stone, the horror writer defended the songwriter against his detractors, particularly the authors who had rubbished Dylans win: People complaining about his Nobel either dont understand or its just a plain old case of sour grapes.

Levelling his gaze directly at novelist Gary Shteyngart, he added: Ive seen several literary writers who have turned their noses up at the Dylan thing, like Gary Shteyngart. Well, Ive 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.

When the news of the award broke, Shteyngart tweeted: I totally get the Nobel committee. Reading books is hard. He was not alone in the literary world; a legion of authors were disappointed with the decision, including Hari Kunzru and Irvine Welsh, the latter writing that Dylans win was ill-conceived nostalgia award bestowed by senile, gibbering hippies. Chocolat author Joanne Harris tweeted: Is this the first time that a back catalogue of song lyrics has been judged eligible for a literary prize?


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Axe man Stephen King playing alongside Amy Tan in the Rock Bottom Remainders in 1998. Photograph: Michael C York/AP

King said the musician, whose laureateship was announced in October, had opened the door for a lot of people. I would argue that without Dylan, Paul Simon maybe ends up in the Brill Building, writing songs like Hey Schoolgirl like he did in the beginning, he told the magazine.

Though King who has himself been a singer and guitarist in the writers band Rock Bottom Remainders admitted he had never met the Blowin in the Wind writer, he said his friend John Mellencamp had told him Dylan wouldnt even turn up at the dentist when he had a toothache. He said that Bob was at his house once and he was complaining about a toothache. I guess he doesnt go to the doctor or anything. He said, Man, John, I got this terrible toothache. Its killing me. John said, Well, Ive got some Advil. And Bob gave him this long look and said, You trying to get me hooked?

Dylan has seemed as embarrassed by the accolade as some of his detractors. After the announcement, the Nobel committee was unable to contact him to invite him to the award ceremony in Sweden on 10 December. He finally emerged to say thank you at the end of October after Per Wstberg, a member of the Swedish Academy, told Swedish TV that Dylans attitude had been impolite and arrogant.

He broke his silence with a call to the academys permanent secretary, Sara Danius, to say: <a href=”” data-link-name=”in” body link” class=”u-underline”>I appreciate the honour so much. The news about the Nobel prize left me speechless. But though grateful, he said he was unable to make the ceremony and sent a speech to be read out by a member of the academy, after singer Patti Smith performs a specially arranged version of the singers 1963 track A Hard Rains a-Gonna Fall.

King said that Dylans writing had influenced him from the moment he heard it at the age of 14, while in the back of a car on the way home from a movie. There was a guy on WBZ radio out of Boston he played Subterranean Homesick Blues. Hearing it was like being electrified. It was like this pressurised dump of lyrics and images.

His love of the singer has filtered down three generations of the King family, he added: My kids listen to Dylan, and so do my grandkids. Thats three generations. Thats real longevity and quality. Most people in pop music are like moths around a bug light; they circle for a while and then theres a bright flash and theyre gone. Not Dylan.

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