Two new novels feature John Lennon as a main character

In the last few months, there have been two novels in which members of The Beatles are central characters, Beatlebone by Kevin Barry and Get Back: Imagine Saving John Lennon by Donovan Day. Both of these 2015 novels have been reviewed many times.

The second novel from Irish writer Kevin Barry, Beatlebone covers a fictitious trip to the west coast of Ireland by John Lennon in 1978. In real life, John Lennon purchased a small island called Dorinish in Clew Bay, County Mayo in 1967 for the sum of 1,550 pounds. A November 22, 2015 review in the New York TimesIn Beatlebone, An Imagined Trip with John Lennon” gave interesting insight into the novel, “… about John Lennon. It follows him closely for around 200 pages, through a few comically calamitous days in 1978, as he travels through western Ireland to an island off its coast, bought on a lark 11 years earlier……a few days alone on his island, he hopes, will bring him the peace that marriage and fatherhood, though he loves them, haven’t. The poignant knowledge that this is an end-of-life crisis , not a middle-of-life one: that belongs to us not to him.”

An extremely interesting review of Beatlebone, “John Lennon, 1980 and me; an appreciation of Kevin Barry’s Beatlebone”, appeared on a blog in the online version of The Guardian on February 10, 2016. It is eye-opening to say the least.

The second novel that is a fictional work about The Beatles was also published in late 2015. Get Back: Imagine…..Saving John Lennon by first-time novelist Donovan Day has received equally positive reviews. The plot centers around 17 year-old Lenny Funk who uses time travel to go back to the 1960’s to befriend the Fab Four. One moment it is 2015 and he is listening to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” on his iPod, and the same day he is in London, soon to befriend The Beatles at the height of their fame. The dialogue from 2015 New York to London in the 1960’s is right on target. Showing John Lennon his smartphone and all its features as something from the future, the Beatle is amazed. On the subject of the future, John quizzically asks Lenny, “What is going to happen to me?”

The passage about John being told what a selfie is conveys how successful Lenny is is transitioning from 2015 right back to London in 1964:

“Uh, how about we take a selfie?”
“What in God’s name is a selfie?”
“It’s a photo of us together that we take ourselves.”
He crosses his arms. “Show me.”
I toy with the settings a moment, reach out my arm, and move my head closer to John’s. “Okay, smile.”
Incredibly he does, looking at our image on screen as if mesmerized. I take the photo and show it to him – me and John Lennon side by side. I am ecstatic. This is real proof no one can deny.
………..He smiles proudly. “I don’t know if you are lying to me or if you are a lunatic, but you are different, I’ll say that much. This thing, this phone or camera, or whatever it is? If you invented this thing, you need to come work for us. Brian can set you up in his office.”

Lenny Funk’s travel back to save John Lennon from being murdered on the ill-fated day of December 8, 1980 becomes the focus of the plot and will have readers turning the pages of the book very quickly. The book review “Get Back: A Time-Travel Adventure to Save Lennon” by Shelley Germeaux gives a good appraisal of this young-adult novel.

The fact that John Lennon is a main character in both of the recent novels Beatlebone and Get Back: Imagine Saving John Lennon should be of interest to Beatles fans. Both novels are good reads.

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