“Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re trying to be so quiet?
We sit here stranded, though we’re all doing our best to deny it”
“A strange young man called Dylan with a voice like sand and glue”
For a few weeks in the summer of 1988, in a bedsit on Woodlands Road, Glasgow, I spent my nights hacking at a manual typewriter, writing a horror novel, which would be published by Bloomsbury the following year. While writing, I listened to one album on repeat: Desire by Bob Dylan. One song in particular, “Isis,” affected me profoundly with its line, “I came to a high place of darkness and light,” so much so that I used the last four words of it for the book’s title.
I was 22, and had been under Dylan’s spell for about three years. That spell has still not been broken. I’m one of many writers who applauded when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, and I can’t imagine my poetic or intellectual landscapes without him. There’s nothing I can say about him that hasn’t been said already, and better, by others, so today, on his 80th birthday, I’ll just say I’m grateful.