Beatlebone by Kevin Barry is all the proof we need of the literary brilliance of the Irish. It centers on John Lennon, in mid-career. Seven years ago he bought an island off the west coast of Ireland and he has left his residence at the famous Dakota Hotel in New York City to find his island amidst the many coastal islands. The West of Ireland is a magic place, one of the portals a spirit inhabited world. It is only gradually revealed in the narrative that we are dealing with the famous John Lennon, considered the intellect and creative force behind the Beatles, but as it is revealed on the cover it is hardly hidden. But still the slow revelation is very skillful executed.
John hires a local guide who turns out to be a shape-shifter. John is concerned the Dublin press will end up swarming all over him.
The prose of Beatlebone is just incredible, surrealistic at times, then lyrical then journalistic. More than once I was stunned by the images invoked. I thought and hope I knew what was meant when John felt a portal to the underworld was opening for him in the west of Ireland. The dialogues are just a sheer pleasure to read. As the novel progresses the narrative method or perhaps it is the prose style more than this changes to seem like Kevin Barry is at times writing a journalistic account of Lennon's time looking for the island. There are also flash backs to older days in the Beatles, accounts of "Scream Therapy", drug fueled parties and numerous very striking minor characters. We learn how Lennon came to buy an island and are given some West of Ireland cultural lessons.
I am sure Beatlebone will be very well received. I totally loved it.
I was kindly given a review copy of this book.
KEVIN BARRY is the author of the highly acclaimed novel City of Bohane and two short story collections, Dark Lies the Island and There Are Little Kingdoms. He was awarded the Rooney Prize in 2007 and won The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Prize in 2012. For City of Bohane, he was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the Irish Book Award, and won the Author’s Club First Novel Prize, The European Prize for Literature and the IMPAC Prize. His short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and elsewhere. He lives in County Sligo in Ireland. - publisher supplied data.