Book Review: John Lennon — Life is What Happens by John M Borack
“Dead on arrival.” Howard Cosell’s distinctively recognizable voice intoned a certain finality to the end of a life, an era, and of innocence for America’s “peace” generation. Since December 8, 1980, this writer has seldom heard or used the word, “peacenik” — unless it was in reference to John Lennon.
John M. Borack, author of John Lennon: Life Is What Happens, and I have something in common. We, along with many — perhaps millions — of others were sufficiently traumatized by Cosell’s words that evening that we’ll never forget the moment. Thanks to Lennon’s work and books like this, our memories of a fallen hero can live on. Thanks to Yoko Ono’s “Gimme Some Truth” campaign, additional generations can experience the classic work of a superstar at the same level of fame as Elvis — or as Lennon himself said, Jesus.
John Lennon: Life Is What Happens contains over 250 pages each of which, except for the introduction, bibliography and index, presents photographs and a modest offering of text. There are images of vinyl records, album covers, assorted memorabilia, many artists/musicians, photos, books, and instruments. It’s like a museum in a book. Although the text is sparse, it is more than adequate to tell Lennon’s story, reveal lots of “Beatle trivia” and satisfy a loyal (if not fanatical) fan base. (Can you name John Lennon’s first composition?) Readers won’t be surprised to find photos of hand written original lyrics, an assortment of Lennon’s autograph on a variety of media and even the original AP wire teletype confirmation of the singer’s death.
The text included draws heavily upon printed interviews from Playboy and Rolling Stone as well as quotes from Lennon’s appearances on television with Ed Sullivan, Dick Cavett, Mike Douglas and Larry King. Photography fans will enjoy the work included here, especially that by Richard Avedon. Add this book to your library or give it as a gift. Every page is filled with great information for those new to Lennon and memories for long-time fans. As Lennon said, “In my life, I’ve loved them all.”
John Lennon's first composition was "Hello Little Girl" in 1958.