Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"lennon in america: 1971-1980" book review

hands down, "lennon in america: 1971-1980, based in part on the lost lennon diaries," by geoffrey giuliano, is the darkest and creepiest book i've ever read. i picked it up at the scarsdale library book fair last weekend and thought it would be a interesting look at lennon's post-beatle years in the united states - in particular, his years in new york city. giuliano paints such an unrelenting negative portrait of lennon (and an evil one of yoko) that it's hard to reconcile with his statement, "when you respect and admire someone as much as i do john lennon..."

but i should have expected the salacious with a jacket blurb like this one:

"here is john lennon as both devoted husband and thoughtless adulterer; the doting dad and absentee father; a macrobiotic health enthusiast who wrestled with alcoholism, heroin addiction, and bulima; a pitchman for world peace unable to control his volcanic temper; a vocal feminist and recalcitrant chauvinist...."

still, the john lennon that emerged from his book is hardly a shadow of the man who was a beatle. instead, we see - chapter after chapter - someone who eventually spiraled downward into an eccentric recluse. while he pins a good chunk of lennon's decline on his relationship with yoko - she can't bear all the responsibility for his years in the wilderness.

with access to lennon's unpublished diaries, guiliano spills all the tawdry minutiae of his daily life onto the pages of his biography. it would be interesting if the unexpurgated diaries themselves are published someday. but, the strange fascination of this book is wondering if the anecdotes find ink in lennons diaries, or are the recollections of witnesses.

while "lennon in america" wasn't my cup of tea, for the hard-core lennon and/or beatle fan - it's probably indispensable reading.


Just_because_today said...

often wonder if biographies have as much true as they should have and how much of it is the imagination of the writer in a cheap attempt at selling copies.

Anonymous said...

I am almost finished this book and as a die hard Beatle fan and more important, fan of John Lennon, I too found this book to be the most depressing account of him I have ever read. Why weren't the actual diaries themselves published? There is always a shadow of doubt cast over a biography when the subject is no longer available to go public with what is true and what are lies. Such is the case with this book. I recently read Cynithia Lennon's book "John" and due to the length of time that the woman was actually with him, I tend to believe that her account has much more validity than Giuliano's which comes across as total character assisination.