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John Lennon: The Life

John Lennon: The Life - Philip Norman can a gay male 'bottom' be detected through prose alone? Dr. Paul Ekman, who wrote extensively about 'microexpressions,' by the end of his forty years in ethnology, supposedly could take one look at a photograph of an obscure african or indonesian tribe and instantly tell whether the tribe was pacifist or violent, predominately hetero or predominately homo, agriculturalist or carnivore etc. (this would be a plain, color portrait-photograph with the tribe not carrying weapons or lugging around a side of cow...)

I've been working in writing or reading for twenty years, and I think I can successfully identify Philip as a homosexual receiver-type, based on prose alone. it would explain his fascination with rock gods.


this issue aside, John Lennon: The Life is a meticulously researched and deeply well-written biography of John Lennon. Norman researches and recounts actual table-side conversations from the early 1960s, and apparently converses with all parties to recreate exactly who said what and why, to what emotional end. it is fantastic to follow along with John Lennon who in the course of the 1960s goes from Liverpool to Berlin to the famous "post-acid" style finally to Yoko and NYC, L.A. days... until you see it in print, it's hard to understand exactly the progression of years, but here it all written out in well-organized chronological order, age 10-20 rebellious, emotionally crippled teenager, 20-25 Hamburg and the Reeperbahn, 25-30 stardom, NYC and Ed Sullivan Show, 30-40 Yoko years incl. 'Lost Weekend' episode. every age progression is carefully researched, annotated, footnoted, and laid out so we feel exactly how long each period lasted and what everyone was feeling at the time.

and despite knowing all the Beatles' music, of course the "lost weekend," where lennon goes out for 18 months with a Chinese (!) girl was something I never knew. (= the "Lost Weekend")

Norman's work is not for everyone. among his more spurious accusations is that the early Beatles were formed by 15-hour work days in the hamburg red light district (fine) but also a gang of black-leather clad 'artists' who at one point threatened the beatles with a large handgun. because black leather at this point was a motif of the Nazi SS, the Beatles can therefore be read as a sort of residual product of the SS movement, accounting for their mass appeal (The Nazis invented crowd control). I find this somewhat hard to believe. do any pictures exist of the early beatles in black leather jackets and jackboots?... somebody research this.

second, Norman implies that Lennon was deeply sexually troubled throughout his life, existing in a sort of perpetual anguish, a deathly fear of being or becoming a "cripple," and this angst only lifted through the intervention of the Japanese, who not only rigorously controlled the Beatles' first show at the Budokan, but also took the form of a sexually-frigid older woman 'Yoko Ono' who both permitted Lennon to go off with a Chinese girl for 18 months, (May Pang?, I think the name was/) and also served as Lennon's only period of peace in his brief life. Lennon was eventually killed by another Japanese woman, Mariko Abe, who manipulated Chapman and possibly even provided the copy of [b:The Catcher in the Rye|5107|The Catcher in the Rye|J.D. Salinger|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1349928703s/5107.jpg|3036731], which more than one celebrity killer carried during their killings. we should be scared of Catcher in the Rye fanatics? Mariko Abe was middle-class and resentful of the upper-class Yoko Ono, and JL was just an incidental byproduct? this is getting stranger by the minute...

anyway a fantastic work, both stylisticaly, research, structure, and that famous writing problem: "characterizing music:. many kudos to Norman-- i just wish the thesis wasn't, "everyone had unrequited homosexual crushes on John Lennon," including Epstein, J. Edgar Hoover, possibly his father etc. etc etc.... more reality, less speculation please Mr. Norman!