Beatlebone

Written by Kevin Barry
Review by Susan McDuffie

Ireland, 1978: John Lennon seeks sanctuary on Dorinish, the tiny island in Achill Bay he purchased some years earlier. John yearns for a few days alone, days of solitude he can fill with primal screams and flashes of creativity. But the journey is not simple, it is an odyssey indeed, as John’s enigmatic driver Cornelius O’Grady guides John on a magical mystery tour through the west Irish coast after the press gets word of the celebrity’s presence in the Emerald Isle.

I confess it seems a little strange to me to think of a book set in 1978 as historical fiction, but Kevin Barry is younger than I, and was a little boy during those “good old days.” Barry’s poetic writing offers an interesting glimpse into Lennon’s psyche and Barry’s vision of the man Lennon was. Historical fiction gives voice to people gone from this world, and Beatlebone does exactly that, as Barry channels the late 1970s and the spirit of Lennon himself.

Barry’s unique voice and lyrical style might make a challenging read for those readers who prefer a more traditional, straightforward narrative but the award winning author has a marvelous way with words and images. Lovers of imaginative, unusual fiction, as well as Beatles fans, will enjoy this peek into Lennon’s life and heart as he journeys through west Ireland.