In the past I have tried to make a point of completing any book that I have started. Dan Brown
, Stieg Larsson
, Jack Kerouac
– I have suffered them all at length in honour of this ideal. I even waded through Samuel Richardson’s 1600 page borefest Clarissa
, despite the fact that the blurb on the back gave away the ending.
I have now discovered my breaking point and it is the the reprehensible, the lamentable, the despicable: Lennon: The Definitive Biography
by Ray Coleman (1995 ed) aka The Worst Book I Have (n)Ever Read.
The 1995 is relevant here, because I didn’t get past page 70 of the preface to the new edition. I’ll say that again; page 70
of the preface
to the new edition.
The scale of the task ahead of me in articulating the nature of this monstrosity is beyond my modest writing ability, so I will revert to bullet points.
• A complete absence of structure, rambling aimlessly from topic to topic to no evident purpose, combined with individual paragraphs so garbled as to denude the text of any meaning whatsoever.
• The apparently random insertion of adverbs such as ironically or tortuously, without any understanding of what the meaning of such a word may be. Page 66 boasts a typical example: “he had always been ‘bitterly ashamed’ of his Twist and Shout
vocal – coincidentally, this writer’s favourite Lennon rock’n’roll track”. In what way is that coincidental, exactly?
• Treating the reader like an idiot, as in the phrase “the drug LSD”. Dude, I’m reading a John Lennon biography, I am likely to know what LSD is without your help.
• A complete musical/cultural tin ear, including a complete dismissal of Paul McCartney’s talents. At one point he describes a charity concert including “rock stars of the calibre of Eric Clapton and Phil Collins” and the “Russian singer-songwriter Mikhail Baryshnikov”. Really? REALLY?
By this point I was physically hurling the book away with such force that I was endangering our home fittings/children. The ever-wise M calmly placed her hand on my shoulder made the radical suggestion that I really should just…stop reading the dreadful thing.
And you know what? She was right.