An Innovation in Guerilla Marketing: The Photo-Blurb

DEVIN McKINNEY  •  In case you didn’t know, our own Mike Gerber has published a fanciful and fantabulous fantasy novel re: the Beatles, John Lennon, murder, mystery, memory, and the whole mishigas. Here is another plug of support from a fellow co-founder of this blog (cropped above and below to honor the subclause of our bylaws requiring co-founders to maintain facial anonymity as we walk among our subjects).

Kudos, Mike, on—as JL often referred to a PM song he particularly liked—a damn good piece of work.

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  1. Avatar Michael wrote:

    Aw, thanks, Devin. Your opinion means an awful lot to me.

    (And now: more Sudafed.)

    (No, I am not making meth.)

    (But I WILL if I have to–Book Two is burning a hole in my brain!)

  2. Avatar Nancy wrote:

    Having begun to comment on your book, Mike, I find that I can’t stop yet —

    Writing fiction about a band that isn’t quite the Beatles, and an iconic figure from that band that isn’t quite John Lennon, is a brilliant stroke. It reminds me of Paul’s idea of having the Beatles become Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for an album, enabling them to both be and not be “The Beatles.” In the case of “Life After Death for Beginners,” tackling the band and Lennon’s afterlife imaginatively seems to have allowed you to get at some of the deeper, messier (and funnier!) aspects of human beings caught up in megacelebrity, without the baggage that comes with a lot of nonfiction writing about the band and its members.

    I loved John’s inner monologues, which I thought captured so many of the qualities that come through in his songs and statements. Tom Larkin is clearly someone smart, funny, and capable of great loyalty and tenderness who can also be self-obsessed and act cruelly. His conversations with Oliver, in particular, felt absolutely right. My favorite line, though, was Tom’s saying, of the idea that Katrinka broke up the Ravins, that she was “as innocent as a gravedigger’s shovel.”

    I also see your book as a corrective to the kind of idolization that’s too easy for “Ravin Mavins” to fall into. I recently looked at reviews of “Double Fantasy Stripped Down” on Amazon, and in addition to the helpful reviews of the music, there’s a whole thread of I-hate-Yoko’s-songs comments countered by If-you-don’t-like-Yoko-you-can’t-be-a-REAL-Lennon-fan comments. When people start declaiming about the opinions you need to hold to be a REAL fan of someone, it reminds me uncomfortably of religious fundamentalists I’ve known. I believe that there’s something about this in Devin’s “Magic Circles,” where one group of Lennon fans is trying to control what other Lennon fans are singing at the Strawberry Fields memorial on one of the anniversaries of his death. Terribly ironic in view of the fact that the Beatles, and Lennon in particular, sang about freedom and thinking for yourself.

    In sum: all of us fans need occasionally to step back, get a perspective, and laugh at ourselves and the still-only-human people who created what we love. And I think your book manages to combine that kind of humor with depth of feeling — no small feat.

  3. Avatar Michael wrote:

    So much to say, Nancy…but I’ll restrain myself by saying, “Thank goodness–you GOT it.” That’s a huge gift to me (and relief)!

    I can’t take credit for the fictionalizing; that was my wife’s brainstorm. She’s super-smart. As far as I know she cannot bake a cake with her mind, but what she gets up to when I’m not around, I can’t say.

    My goal with the book–and the two others I’m hoping to write with Tom–is to inspire compassion and understanding for these guys we all know about and admire, but only seem to know. Last week somebody who’d read the book said she’d choked up on his birthday, because the book had explained Lennon to her in some new ways, and she felt closer to him. SCORE! It took everything I had as a writer and a person to write Life After Death for Beginners, but that was my goal, and that goal was 1000% worth all the suffering en route.

    Glad Tom and Oliver rang true. In the next one I hope to really dig into Tom’s relationship with Harry; the Lennon/Harrison relationship is just as interesting to me as the Lennon/McCartney one.

    Thanks again, Nancy. I’m so so glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Avatar Nancy Carr wrote:

    Just noticed that all the sponsored ads on the site are now sympathy- and death-related, courtesy of the title “Life After Death for Beginners” being tracked by the robo-software that sets these things up. Hope Tom Larkin’s getting a laugh out of that!

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