Sunday, October 28, 2012

Peace off!

The John Lennon Letters

From the outside, The John Lennon Letters looks like a feast for Lennon buffs. The book is 400 pages long and as heavy as a paver. If Lennon really wrote this many letters, this isn’t merely an “international publishing event.” It would also appear to be a major book.  

Unfortunately, the Letters is less full of letters than you might think. Its editor, Hunter Davies, initially dreamed of discovering “large, hidden-away caches” of unknown Lennon correspondence. In the event, he unearthed only a handful of substantial letters. To fill the book up, Davies has, by his own admission, “rather expanded the definition of the word ‘letter’.” He’s expanded it, apparently, to include any piece of paper or cardboard that bears Lennon’s signature: shopping lists, memos to domestic staff, postcards to fans (“Dear Toli, Hi! Bye! Love, John”) ... [read more] 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Real horrorshow

A Clockwork Orange: The Restored Text by Anthony Burgess 



“The book I am best known for, or only known for, is a novel I am prepared to repudiate.” As Anthony Burgess neared the end of his life, that was how he felt about A Clockwork Orange. After all, he’d written more than fifty other books, some of which were clearly more substantial. He also resented the notoriety of the film: he didn’t like being thought of as the mere supplier of Kubrick’s raw material. And he worried that the novel was too preachy: its moral lesson, he admitted, stuck out “like a sore thumb.” 

But almost twenty years after its author’s death, Burgess’s rogue child still has an irrepressible life of its own. Having just turned fifty, it has been re-issued in a sumptuous, radiantly orange anniversary edition. [read more]