Monday, November 26, 2012

Strawberry Fields Forever: John Lennon Remembered

1980, first edition, from Bantam
Vic Garbarini and Brian Cullman, with Barbara Graustark
Strawberry Fields Forever: John Lennon Remembered
Original and purchase price both $2.95
Worn paperback with possible water damage

Published the same month that John Lennon was killed, this shows signs of being a rush job, with many errors, some of them repeated, such as Lennon's mother dying when he was 13 rather than 15, and the Beatles releasing a song called "Ask [rather than Tell] Me Why."  My favorite mistake is the Beatles film Medical Mystery Tour.  Still, the book does a good job of capturing the shock and outrage of Lennon's death, as well as discussing his life, although the latter has less fresh material of course.

After an Introduction by rock critic Dave Marsh (whom we'll be hearing more of as the '80s continue), the story unfolds in an odd order, first the death and its immediate aftermath, then background on Chapman, then John and Yoko's life in NYC, and then three chapters in chronological order, from 1940 to '80.  The penultimate chapter is Graustark's "exclusive" Newsweek interview.  And lastly is "a chronological biography," basically a timeline, and yes, I checked to see if anything happened on my birthdate.  (Announcement that Hunter Davies was going to write a biography of the band.)  So there's obviously some reduncancy, and the book certainly could've used a better editor.  There is a sense of the authors trying to cash in, although "a portion of their earnings" would be donated to "various charities."

Overall though, I think the book is better than could be expected.  And, yes, the immediacy is part of the appeal, including this soon to be darkly ironic sentence:  "Most predictable was the President-elect of the United States, who deplored the killing as a 'great tragedy,' and added that 'we have to find an answer to street violence' without mentioning control of the flood of handguns."

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