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Jude Southerland Kessler: Lennon Biography Series
22 February 2012
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seaglass eyes sunny smile
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skye said

What I didn't like but had nothing to do with her writing:

She killed his dog: Yes, the world is cruel, but it's not your job to prove it, Mimi.

I thought she gave his dog away?a-hard-days-night-paul-2a-hard-days-night-ringo-7

"Now and then, though, someone does begin to grow differently. Instead of down, his feet grow up toward the sky. But we do our best to discourage awkward things like that."

"What happens to them?" insisted Milo.

"Oddly enough, they often grow ten times the size of everyone else," said Alec thoughtfully, "and I’ve heard that they walk among the stars."

The Phantom Tollbooth

7 February 2014
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PeterWeatherby
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Now that the book release is coming up this weekend at the New York Fest for Beatles Fans, I can finally mention that Jude Southerland Kessler's new book is available. It's the third volume in the John Lennon Series, and I recommend it highly. I was able to get a pre-release copy of the manuscript last summer from the author, and this is easily the most exciting volume in the series so far, due in no small part to the fact that she really captures the breathless pace of Beatlemania as it began to unfold in America.

I lost count, but this volume has some 2,500 (give or take a hundred) footnotes, so it's very well researched and documented, and yet it retains the format of a novel in its narrative, so it's an incredibly lively read that's difficult to set down. The real strength in these volumes lies in the way the author deals with certain aspects of the Beatles' story that have multiple competing versions (When and where did John and Paul write the song "She Loves You "? What really happened on John and Brian's trip to Spain? What's the story behind John supposedly beating up Bob Wooler at Paul's birthday party?), and how she manages to lay out all the different facets of story in a narrative format, allowing the reader to come to their own informed conclusion.

Mrs. Kessler utilizes various pieces of information found on this web site in some of her documentation, so you know it's solid research. :)

It can be ordered here: http://www.johnlennonseries.co.....esYou.html

Not a bit like Cagney.

7 February 2014
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DrBeatle
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I need to ask a question about these books because they look interesting and like they could be good, but from reading about them on the website and elsewhere, they seem like a blend of fact and fiction...is that true?

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7 February 2014
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parlance
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DrBeatle said
I need to ask a question about these books because they look interesting and like they could be good, but from reading about them on the website and elsewhere, they seem like a blend of fact and fiction...is that true?

I've had that same question.

parlance

 

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at Vimeo or YouTube.

7 February 2014
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DrBeatle
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Beyond that, maybe I'm being too critical, but the cover art...ugh. On the first book, John looks very...shall we say, HUSKY. And on the third/newest one, his eyes are droopy and crooked to the point of him looking like Sloth from the Goonies. I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but still...

"I know you, you know me; one thing I can tell you is you got to be free!"

 

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7 February 2014
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Joe
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PeterWeatherby! There's a name from the past. Glad you made it back to the forum.

I've got Jude's first two books (she's an online friend of mine, and we've helped each other out a lot in the past with research dilemmas). She's incredibly diligent about getting her facts straight, and will routinely mull over events for days or weeks before starting writing. Yes the books contain fictionalised dialogue, but they're based in fact and she's got an army of well connected people (Larry Kane, Bill Harry, Richard Langham etc) providing her with info about the group. The accuracy is a lot better than many Beatles books I've read.

I guess the style of writing isn't for everyone, but you might like them. I think you can still download a sample chapter of She Loves You on Amazon.

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7 February 2014
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PeterWeatherby
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parlance said

DrBeatle said

I need to ask a question about these books because they look interesting and like they could be good, but from reading about them on the website and elsewhere, they seem like a blend of fact and fiction...is that true?

I've had that same question.

parlance

 

Well, yes and no. I guess the best way to describe it would be to take a specific example. The new book, "She Loves You ," starts with John and Brian Epstein going on holiday in Spain, and that chapter follows their factual itinerary as it has been documented in other sources. Throughout the chapter, there are footnotes that point you to those sources, whether it's another Lennon biography, the Beatles Anthology, an interview, or whatever. So in that regard, it's very factual and very well researched.

But also in that chapter, the narrative has John and Brian having conversations, and while other sources tell us, generally speaking, what John and Brian talked about on that trip - with maybe even a quote here or there - we obviously don't know the specifics of each conversation. That's where the author fills in some of the gaps with conjectural conversation, often drawing from John's or Brian's known vocabulary and turns of phrase so that the dialogue sounds credible.

Here's a short example:

“Listen,” he said in a thin voice, offering the wine to John, “as far as the recording designation goes, I’ve no preference whatsoever for Lennon/McCartney or McCartney/Lennon…whatever you think is best…”

John didn’t explore the exact meaning of “you.” If it were the “collective you,” or the “royal you,” John didn’t want to know about it. He only wanted Brian’s endorsement, in any form.[27]

“Well, personally, Brian,” John simpered, “I’ve always thought Lennon/McCartney had a rather clever ring.” [28] He leaned forward once again, grabbed the proffered bottle, and grinned his trademark Cheshire grin.

“So be it, then,” Brian relented.

Dick James didn’t care how The Beatles’ songs were catalogued, and neither did George Martin. The only person who would object to the Lennon/McCartney designation was far away in The Canary Islands, soaking up sun in the Voormann’s holiday home,[29] and Brian wouldn’t have to face him for eight more days. All in all, Brian thought, the compromise is a small penalty to pay for immediate harmony. John was already smiling again – reaching for a knife and the wooden bread board. A crisis had been averted.

[27] Norman, John Lennon : The Life, 307. Norman quotes Paul as saying, “[John] wanted Brian to know whom he should listen to.”

[28] Norman, John Lennon : The Life, 297.

[29] Norman, Shout!, 181 and Norman, John Lennon : The Life, 306.

And at the end of each chapter, there are more detailed notes on some of the key points. For example, at the end of this particular chapter, there is this note:

What motivated John to take this vacation with Brian?

Source after source tells us that Paul had begun to play a decisive role in decisions affecting The Beatles and that John used this opportunity to reassert his leadership of the group.

In Danny Fields' book, Linda McCartney, A Portrait, p. 73, according to Nat Weiss, Paul stated, “There is no question in my mind that The Beatles happened because Brian fell in love with John. I mean, that was a motivating force for the whole thing…”

And in The Anthology, p. 98, McCartney goes on to say, “Brian was gay, and John saw his opportunity to impress upon Mr. Epstein who was the boss of the group. I think that’s why he went on holiday with Brian. And good luck to him, too – he was that kind of guy; he wanted Brian to know whom he should listen to. That was the relationship; John was very much the leader in that way, although it was never actually said.”

Dr. Ken Womack his book, Long and Winding Roads, (p. 66) sums it up best, “[John’s] Spanish excursion with The Beatles manager possessed larger implications for McCartney…From ‘Love Me Do ’ and ‘Please Please Me ' through the ‘From Me To You ’ single, the songs were pointedly credited to McCartney/Lennon. Paul alleged that John plotted to reverse the order of their names during the vacation with Brian…From thence forward, the duo’s songs were officially credited to “Lennon/McCartney.”

So, yeah, I'm not quite sure how to describe this series, other than to say that it's a Lennon biography, but told in a narrative format.

Does that help at all?

Not a bit like Cagney.

7 February 2014
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PeterWeatherby said

Does that help at all?

That does help me, thanks. I was under the impression they were biographical novels, but I guess "narrative biographies" is closer to the truth.

parlance.

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at Vimeo or YouTube.

7 February 2014
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The factual side of the book sounds intriguing but as I dislike films that have artistic license this is not something i would be able to make it through. My brain would be screaming too much as i read.

"I told you everything I could about me, Told you everything I could" ('Before Believing' - Emmylou Harris) 

"Don't make your love suffer insecurities; Trade the baggage of 'self' to set another one free" ('Paper Skin' - Kendall Payne)

7 February 2014
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DrBeatle
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meanmistermustard said
The factual side of the book sounds intriguing but as I dislike films that have artistic license this is not something i would be able to make it through. My brain would be screaming too much as i read.

Same here...I think I'll pass on these, no offense to the author or anyone who digs them. It's one of the main beefs with Peter Brown's book that I have as well, and all of you on here know how I feel about that one :lol:

 

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7 February 2014
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meanmistermustard said

The factual side of the book sounds intriguing but as I dislike films that have artistic license this is not something i would be able to make it through. My brain would be screaming too much as i read.

I thought the exact same thing when I first heard of the series (only the first volume was out at the time), so I bought the first book used at a considerable discount, and then I realized it's only doing what James O'Donnell did in The Day John Met Paul (which I loved) - and I couldn't put the darn thing down once I started reading it.

I actually prefer this biography over some of the other writers, who only give you one dimension of a particular event or story, and present it as though it's gospel truth. This series at least keeps the reader aware of when there are multiple competing stories, and somehow finds a way to weave a narrative around those conflicts without forcing the reader to accept one or the other.

Not a bit like Cagney.

7 February 2014
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I think the factual documentary side sounds really intriguing and different to most books, so that i love the idea of, but my brain would just keep shouting at the perceived conversations "that didn't happen". It happened with Lennon Naked, Birth of the Beatles and all the other films with artistic license adopted i've seen and with all the tribute bands who dress up as the foursome. When they don't put on the suits its fine but as soon as they do my whole being just screams "you're not Georgeblue-meanieblue-meanie". Its been that way since i was aged around 13 (i think) and i refused to see The Bootleg Beatles in North Ayshire.

I have no idea why but it happens every time.

"I told you everything I could about me, Told you everything I could" ('Before Believing' - Emmylou Harris) 

"Don't make your love suffer insecurities; Trade the baggage of 'self' to set another one free" ('Paper Skin' - Kendall Payne)

2 July 2014
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Hey Dullbog post, followed by discussion in the comments, on Jude Southerland Kessler's recent interview with the Examiner:

As the Beatles’ story is told and retold, the line between fact and fiction can grow vanishingly thin, and that’s why this interview with author Jude Southerland Kessler alarms me. She’s currently promoting volume three of a projected nine-book Lennon project she hopes will be “John’s ultimate biography.” Kessler is writing Lennon’s life in novelistic style, basing the narrative on fact while fleshing out conversations and scenes. Here’s what concerns me: she insists her books are equivalent to conventionally researched and presented biographies, and calls people who think otherwise “uninformed.”

More at the link.

parlance

Beware of sadness. It can hit you. It can hurt you. Make you sore and what is more, that is not what you are here for. - George

Check out my fan video for Paul's song "Appreciate" at Vimeo or YouTube.

2 July 2014
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Well, instead of being 99% sure I will never read these, now I'm 100%. Thanks for the link! :)

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1 September 2018
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The fourth book in the series is out now. Title: Should Have Known Better

23 September 2018
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I've been intrigued about this series of books for a while. Honestly though, who thought the covers were a good idea? They look atrocious. 

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