From Publishers Weekly
In this breezy collection of remembrances, journalist Kane (Ticket to Ride) fondly-if a bit too reverentially-remembers his times with enigmatic Beatle John Lennon. In 1964, Kane, then a radio reporter, was assigned to follow the Beatles in America, beginning a relationship with Lennon that lasted throughout the musician's short life, and one that obviously engendered some real affection. In brisk, entertaining prose, Kane, with a supporting cast of many Beatles associates, assesses the many faces of Lennon from a journalistic yet intensely personal perch. "Was John Lennon a mean bastard? A foolish prankster? An aggressive sex fiend? A musical tyrant? A gay man?" The answers, Kane says, are as complex as Lennon himself. Kane shares his take on the man and the pivotal moments in his life, including Lennon's relationships with his bandmates and Yoko Ono, his involvement in the peace movement, and the infamous "lost weekend" and the Yoko-ordained affair with secretary May Pang. A final chapter of letters written by Lennon fans, however, feels tacked on. There are certainly better books on Lennon, but readers should enjoy Kane's personal, honest recollections. "My reporting of Lennon and his adult life will no doubt vary from others," Kane aptly notes, "but it is mine."
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Kane met John Lennon when he traveled with the Beatles on their American tours, which he chronicled in Ticket to Ride (2003). Now, 25 years after Lennon's murder, he offers an affectionate but clear-eyed look at the musician's life, based on his recollections and interviews with many of Lennon's friends and associates. Eschewing chronological treatment, Kane proceeds somewhat disjointedly, dividing the book into chapters on such aspects of Lennon as his significant relationships (including with second wife Yoko Ono and paramour May Pang), wild streak, peace activism, love for New York City, and relations with the other Beatles, particularly Paul McCartney. Perhaps because Kane is a reporter rather than a critic, he downplays Lennon the musician; otherwise, he reveals many facets of a complex figure. If the book ultimately doesn't constitute a definitive portrait, it demonstrates why expecting one is probably futile. Yoko Ono told Kane that Lennon "didn't want people to just adore him. He wanted people to know what he [was] made of." Kane's account hews to that wish. Gordon Flagg
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