Review 1620: Beatlebone

Judging by the description, Beatlebone is a novel I never would have picked up if not for my James Tait Black project. Often, these projects I’m pursuing have led me to discover wonderful books that I never would have thought to read, but this is not always the case.

Further, I think that reviewers sometimes get jaded, which causes them to give a book rave reviews just because it is different. Certainly, the newspaper and magazine reviewers raved about this one.

The premise is that John Lennon, in 1978, decides, in an attempt to renew himself, to visit an island he bought off the west coast of Ireland. He doesn’t want to be followed by the paparazzi, however, and he can’t remember exactly where his island is. He ends up being taken around by a man named Cornelius O’Grady, who hides him at his farm, takes him to pubs, and so on. During this time, Lennon has what are described on the jacket as surreal experiences.

The novel was lauded for its writing, and the writing is good, but it is full of Joycean monologues that sometimes go on for pages. One Goodreads reviewer mentioned that a novel needs more than good writing, and I’m with him there. I’m not one to say about a novel that nothing much happens in it if something else keeps my attention, but nothing much happens here, and what does happen, I didn’t have much interest in.

Several newspaper reviews mention Barry’s daring act of inserting himself into the novel. This act consists of inserting about 20 pages into the back end of the novel that would normally go in an Afterword. I found this section simply interrupted what little forward movement there was, as did a five-page rant at the end. The whole thing struck me as well-written fanboy fantasy.

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3 thoughts on “Review 1620: Beatlebone

  1. kimbofo February 23, 2021 / 8:40 pm

    LOL. I politely have to disagree. I loved this one. It’s very clever because it’s rooted in fact… John Lennon did buy an island he never visited and his quirks / concerns are bang on (going by al the biographies / documentaries I’ve read / seen on Lennon). I’m a Barry fan and have read a few of his novels now, each one vastly different to the other, so maybe you might get on better with something else his written. Night Boat to Tangier is excellent look at what happens to two Irish gangsters after a lifetime in the illegal drug trade. It’s dark and funny but also very sad.

    • whatmeread February 23, 2021 / 11:20 pm

      It just wasn’t the subject matter for me.

      • kimbofo February 24, 2021 / 1:00 am

        Fair enough… we can’t all like the same things. 😊

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