Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The John Lennon Letters: A book Review

Being a big John Lennon fan, when I first head about the Hunter Davies book, The John Lennon Letters, I knew that I HAD to get it!    The things John wrote always fascinated me, be it lyrics to his songs, one of his books or one of the many fan letters I had read over the years.   As a matter of fact, whenever a letter John had written went up for auction, I always save the photo of it for my files, just because I enjoy reading them.

The book is very interesting.   It is for those of us in the world who are major John Lennon fans.   It isn't for someone who has just a slight interest in John because they like the song Imagine.   This book is to be read alongside Lennon biographies such as the one by Ray Coleman.   Personally I feel that the new Hunter Davies book helps fill in some blanks and paints a more complete picture of the 40 years John was on this earth.  

The book is full of letters, notes, autographs and things that John wrote to other people.   While it is called "the John Lennon Letters."  Davies uses the word, "letters" loosely and includes basically anything John wrote in a means to communicate to others.   He has things that he wrote to his family members, things written to fans, to magazines, to Beatle insiders and to his personal assistants.  Nothing in the letters particularly "shocked" me.   I am sure that we all read the M.M. letter war that went on between John and Paul.    While I was reading through that section, I had to think that if this was to occur today, it would have been a Twitter or Facebook war between these two.     But the way it was done in the 1970's was through the rock magazines. 

As one might expect from me, my absolute favorite part of the book was the letters that John wrote to his fans.   It amazes me that seriously throughout his entire career as a performer, John was writing to his fans.  Sure, not nearly everyone got a response, but it is amazing that he even took the time to respond to anyone.    And with just a few exceptions, he was always very kind to the fans.    I also enjoyed reading the letters that John wrote to his family in England.  These letters added a certain amount of "human" to John.  He was bragging about his son and asking for photos of family just like any father might do.   He showed concern for his family and he truly missed him.   It was just a nice thing to read.

I have read that people think it is "boring" to read most of the things in this book.   It might be asked "why would I want to read John Lennon's grocery list?"   I didn't mind the lists.  It really put the whole "househusband" thing into perspective.  And I liked knowing that he needed to get cat food.

The only thing that I disliked about the book is the errors that I found.    I respect Hunter Davies as the only person who was officially the Beatles biographer.   His 1968 biography was groundbreaking at that time.   His book on the Quarry Men is very good.    He is one of the people who I consider to be in the amazing Beatle authors book club.    So I was very shocked to see a few glaring mistakes in this book.   The first one was a doozy.    He puts the date of John Lennon meeting Paul McCartney as June 15, 1957.   How he made this mistake in the date is beyond me.   There is one entire book about every single detail of what happened on the day John met Paul (July 6, 1957).   Another big error is the picture of John taken November 14, 1973 in Los Angeles is placed right before the chapter on 1967-1968 with a caption of "John at home by the pool at Kenwood."  (cringe!)    What really confuses me when I find this type of mistakes is how books on the Beatles get published with such big errors?   Aren't there people that are supposed to correct that sort of stuff?    However, these mistakes do not take away from the letters written in the book.

You can buy this book from Amazon, the Fest for Beatle fans or any major book retailer. 

Here is something in the book I just loved.   It is a letter from John and Yoko to Kyoko from the summer of 1970!

I also must mention that our friend, Lizzie Bravo is mentioned in this book!   It is well worth getting for that reason alone!   If you want to know what John Lennon wrote to Lizzie on the back of this photograph, then you need to get the book.  

1 comment:

  1. dear sara, the brazilian publishers sent me this book a few weeks ago. i looked through the notes and letters but i am waiting for the english version i ordered from amazon. i don't like reading translations when i understand the original language a book has been written on. it looks fascinating! i took that photo of john outside paul's house. please notice the postcards john sent to my ex-boyfriend fernando de oliveira in 1979 and 1980 - they are outstanding! he is also from rio, and we met because he wanted me to tell him if the postcards were really by john. i nearly fainted when i saw them! and we eventually became a couple and lived together for a while. we are still good friends. he is now living with a friend of mine.