A couple weeks ago, I was digging through a box of books about the Beatles that I had in search of something to read when I stumbled upon Lennon in America , written by Geoffrey Giuliano and published in 2000. I was surprised to find this book because the author is quite controversial especially in one of the Facebook groups I belong to – Beatles Book Collectors. Though I haven’t kept up with exactly why people don’t like his books, I decided to take a look-see for myself and hoped that I could read this book without prejudice and write a fair review. Here it goes:
According to the subtitle of this book, 1971-1980, Based in Part on the Lost Lennon Diaries, Mr. Giuliano was at some point in time in possession of some of John Lennon’s written and audio diaries which he used extensively in writing this book. I tried to contact a friend to see if I could find out what diaries these were since I had heard of the diaries that were in Fred Seaman’s possession for a short time after John’s death. And… there are the diaries that were stolen that in the past several years that recently turn up in Berlin, Germany. I’m sure someone who reads my blog will be able to clear this all up.
This book, though easy to read, can be a bit choppy. I got the impression that the author was taking information from the diaries and other people’s books and just rewriting it. In fact, the bibliography reads like a Who’s Who of the most popular books about John Lennon, including books by May Pang, Fred Seaman, Cynthia Lennon, Julia Baird, Pete Shotton, John Green, Albert Goldman, etc.. What made me come to this realization was the continual contradiction of events, even within the same paragraph without explanation. I can only guess that without actually researching the events, the author was just trying to cover all bases by including all the stories from everyone who was there. Mr. Giuliano also writes heavily about John’s sex life. In fact, the entire 21 page prologue of this book is about every story ever told about John’s homosexual tendencies. I guess sex sells, doesn’t it?
I kinda left this book not knowing what to believe and more confused about John’s life than I ever was before. And for that reason…
I rate this book, 2 out 4 Beetles!
Well, Amazon got me again! While browsing online at Amazon.com, this book appeared as a Recommendations….
Lennon: The New York Years was written by David Foenkinos and Eric Corbeyran, illustrated by Horne and published on May 30, 2017. According to an article on NME.com, this graphic novel is adapted from a 2010 novel “Lennon” by French author David Foenkinos. After reading this book, there is a part of me that wants to see what the original was like.
This book is touted as “true biographical fiction”, as the setting is John Lennon laying on a psychiatrist’s couch talking about the ups, downs, joys and pains of his life. There are 18 sessions (chapters) in all. Now, I get that when they termed it ‘true biographical fiction’ they were probably referring to his regularly seeing a therapist that happened to also live in the Dakota so Lennon wouldn’t have to go out in public, but unfortunately, some of the fiction seems to have leaked out into Lennon’s life. Starting off with the tall tale that seems to still keep popping up, after long having been dismissed, that John was born during an air raid in Liverpool with the whistling and boom of bombs going off all around the hospital. You be the judge…
“The night I was born it was to the deafening sound of Liverpool being bombed by the Germans. I didn’t come into a life, I came into chaos. And I spent my whole life frightened. That night everything shook. Things fell from the shelves. A building fell down near us. Things had to happen fast so my mother had a cesarean.”
Artistically speaking, this book is actually a pretty nice book. The artist’s interpretation of this story is done in black and white in a 150 page hardcover edition. Comparatively speaking, I personally like the B&W rendition in this graphic novel better than Vivek J. Tiwary’s The Fifth Beatle, but I prefer the linen texture Tiwary cover over the smooth, scratch prone cover of this book. Your mileage may vary…
I leave you with the trailer to this book…
I rate this book, 2 out of 4 Beetles!
While in Philadelphia last week, I dropped into a small independently owned book store to see if I could find anything new and exciting to review for my blog this week. I spied an autographed copy of Master of Ceremonies: A Memoir by Joel Grey and being a sucker for the movie Cabaret, I just crossed by fingers and prayed that I’d find the word “Beatles” in it, or find a way to tie his story to the Fab Four.
Born Joel David Katz in 1932 in Cleveland, OH, Joel Grey knew from a very young age that he wanted to be a theater actor. His father, Micky Katz, was a musician and comedian and his mother was a stage mom! Joel also realized by the age of nine that he was attracted to men, and like Brian Epstein, he would go to great lengths to hide his sexuality. Joel even went to far as to live out his lifelong dream of getting married to a woman and raising a family, all the while having homosexual affairs that, well…he didn’t consider them as affairs. He married Jo Wilder in a friend’s apartment at the Dakota in New York City in 1958. Together they had two children – Jennifer Grey, of Dirty Dancing fame and an adopted son James.
I couldn’t put this book down and if my eyelids would have allowed, I would have finished it within 24 hours of picking it up. Joel tells his story with such honesty that at times I almost felt like a voyeur sneaking peeks into his private life. He talks openly about his marriage, but will leave his readers with an uneasy feeling of, “Do you hear what you’re saying, Joel?”, when he talks about talking care of his wife and family as they lived off HIS fame. There is one rough part in Chapter 8 where he contradicts a couple early statements, but other than that, the book was amazing. I’m so glad I picked it up…
More recently, Joel Grey has taken up photography. You can see his work on his website: http://www.joelgreyphotographer.com.
I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!