Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Larry And The Lads

There are hundreds of books about the Beatles, but as long as they keep selling, there's always room for more.  A whole subset of them just go over the early, mythical days of the band--John and Paul's first meeting, going to Hamburg, playing at the Cavern, Stu Sutcliffe dying, signing with Brian Epstein, replacing Pete Best with Ringo, etc.  Mark Lewisohn's latest book, Tune In, is 944 pages long and only takes us up to December 1962, when they're about to break through.

But the library doesn't have that yet, so I checked out Larry Kane's book When They Were Boys--only 395 pages--which goes all the way up to early 1964.  Kane was a journalist who traveled with the Beatles on their American tours in '64 and '65, so his earlier book, Ticket To Ride, was a helpful addition to the Beatles' corpus.  When They Were Boys has some new interviews, and does tell an interesting, if well-known, tale, so I can recommend it, but there are flaws.

In fact, it's shocking how poorly written this book is.  Kane's work is cliché-ridden and often confusing, even incoherent.  It's also absurdly repetitive--he'll bring up a fact or story, then mention it again on the same page, then again a few pages later, then again in another chapter.  With proper editing the book could be cut by a hundred pages.  Overall, the story is poorly organized, with the narrative moving in fits and starts and regularly doubling back on itself.  In addition, Kane regularly interrupts the flow to let us know what he thinks today of something in the story, or what some Beatle told him a few years later, or what someone said to him in an interview many years later. (These quotes are generally printed ALL IN CAPS, and make up a fair portion of the book).

Still, it's about the Beatles, and you know that can't be bad.


Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Folks at my high school knew who Pete Best was, but I hadn't heard of Stuart Sutcliffe until he was mentioned by Adam and the Ants.

12:05 PM, March 11, 2014  

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