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Far From Flatbush

Loose Ends

If you're one of those people with Sirius-XM radio, perhaps you heard me yesterday on The Tiffany Granath Show. I know somebody was listening because my 20-minute chat with the enthusiastic host, who was excited to get her hands on the paperback edition of Beaver Street, resulted in a modest surge in sales. I'd also like to thank Tiffany for assiduously plugging the New York launch event on June 16, Bloomsday on Beaver Street, which is free and open to the public.

Though my Book Soup event seems like ancient history at this point, I haven’t written about it yet, and I’ve been meaning to say that I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made in reading the so-called “dirty part” from “The Accidental Porn Star” chapter, which I’ll be reprising at the New York event. My performance, I dare say, is beginning to feel like a cross between a Lenny Bruce stand-up routine and a recitation of a Shakespearian soliloquy. What stands out in my mind about the reading was a man who was browsing through some art books off to the side, paying no attention to me—until I began reading. Then he looked at me with a huge smile, mesmerized, as if he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. The Accidental Porn Star had connected with The Accidental Listener.

Just before I left for L.A., my old pal in St. Louis, Kendra Holliday, posted a video of her interview with me, conducted moments before the event at Shameless Grounds coffee house. It’s an interesting document of a very nervous writer, with a lot on his mind, about to embark on a U.S. promotional tour. I have mixed feeling about this video. Some of it, I think, is outrageous and hilarious. In other parts, however, my nervousness is obvious, and I find it difficult to watch as I struggle for words. But this is the book biz in the 21st century, where every writer, no matter how reluctant, is forced to become a performer.

Finally, here’s a link to a Google-translated review, posted yesterday, of the Italian edition of Nowhere Man: Gli ultimi giorni di John Lennon, which has sold out its first printing. (Here’s the review in the original Italian.) The critic calls the book “daring,” “an unforgiving but truthful portrait,” a “must for… Beatles fans,” and praises the “excellent translation” of Paolo Palmieri. Made my day. Read More 
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Rock City Nights

With The Daily Beaver covering a mini-Watergate-like scandal, it's been easy to overlook the fact that this past weekend the Italian edition of Nowhere Man, masterfully translated by Paolo Palmieri, continued to make cultural inroads. The radio show Rock City Nights, hosted by Donato Zoppo--broadcasting out of Benevento, in southern Italy, and streamed live on the Web--featured Nowhere Man on a classic rock program. Hope some of you had a chance to listen, even if you don't speak Italian.

Here’s a photo of Zoppo in his studio with one of his favorite books. Grazie, signore! Spero di incontrarti un giorno.

We now return to our regularly scheduled muckraking. Read More 
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My Favorite Footnote

A belated happy new year to one and all!

Yesterday I received a couple of copies of the Italian edition of Nowhere Man: Gli ultimi giorni di John Lennon (back cover, right, front cover here).

What most struck me about the book were the extensive footnotes, which are unlike anything that's appeared in any other foreign language edition. The translator, Paolo Palmieri, took pains to explain words and phrases that were impossible to render in Italian without losing some of the meaning. Lennon’s puns and wordplay, Liverpudlian English, and words that rhymed in English but not in Italian were all obsessively annotated.

Here’s an excerpt from my favorite footnote, which appears in the chapter called “Il Lennon Dei Rimpianti” (“Lennon’s Complaint”):

«What did you do to ME fuckin’ cock?»; raro caso cui è possible rendere perfettamente il senso della traduzione operando tra gerghi di lingue diverse: il “me” di Liverpool sta infatti per l’inglese “my”, ovvero viene usata in forma gergale la particella pronominal “me” in sostituzione del possessivo “my”.

What he’s saying, briefly, is that in Liverpudlian slang, sometimes people say “me” instead of “my.” Though I’m sure the Latin mavens among you figured that out on your own. Read More 
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Three Days of Lennon

December 8 marks the 31st anniversary of the day John Lennon died. To commemorate the occasion, I'll be participating in three events on two continents. If you'd like to attend any of them, or listen on your computer or radio, here are the information and links.

Wednesday, December 7
4:00-6:00 P.M. (local time)
Otto's Shrunken Head
538 East 14th Street
New York City

The show’s called “Rew and Who,” and I’ll be reading from my book Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon. May Pang will also be appearing, and there’ll be musical performances by David Peel, HooP, Mary Lyn Maiscott, and others. It’s being streamed live on Internet TV, and it’s one of my very rare New York readings.

Thursday, December 8
10:00 A.M.-2:00 P.M. (local time)
The Louie Free Radio Show
Youngstown, Ohio
WYCL 1540 AM

The Louie Free Show is free-form talk radio, and my December 8 appearance is a tradition that goes back to 1999. Of course I’ll be talking about Lennon and Nowhere Man, and Louie will be playing lots of Lennon music. But he’s unpredictable, so there’s no telling where the interview will go. The show streams live on the Internet. Check Louie’s website that morning for the exact time.

Friday, December 9, 9:00 P.M.-Midnight (local time)
Centro Giovani
Viale della Resistenza 4
Piombino, Italy

I’m being beamed in via Skype for this major presentation of the recently published Italian edition of Nowhere Man: Gli ultimi giorni di John Lennon. If you want to see it, you’ll have to go to Piombino, a picturesque Tuscan city on the Mediterranean. Rock ’n’ roll expert and author Riccardo Bertoncelli will be hosting the event, and my Italian translator and avatar, Paolo Palmieri, will be answering questions about the book and translating everything I have to say as I field questions from the audience. You can get more information on Facebook.

Hope to see you everywhere! Read More 
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The Renaissance of Nowhere Man, II

Nowhere Man, Gli ultimi giorni di John Lennon was recently published in Italy, and this poster is an advertisement for a major Italian presentation of the book.

This special event takes place on December 9, in the central auditorium in Piombiono, a picturesque Tuscan city on the Mediterranean, where Nowhere Man's translator, Paolo Palmieri, lives. It will commemorate the anniversary of Lennon's murder, on December 8, 1980.

Since I can’t be there in person, I will be beamed in via Skype, and will answer questions about Lennon and the Beatles.

Also appearing is rock ’n’ roll expert Riccardo Bertoncelli.

So, if you find yourself in Piombino on the big night, perhaps on your way to Elba or Sardinia, please check out the presentation. The Lennon energy in the town is intense, (especially in Il Pinguino café), Paolo will be happy to speak to you, and (it goes without saying) the food in Piombino is excellent.

Hope you can make it! Read More 
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On Raves and Hatchet Jobs

The best lesson I've learned about reviews since the publication of Nowhere Man in 2000 is that a vicious review will sell as many books as a rave review. And, God knows, I've gotten enough of both to speak with authority on the subject. In fact, since Nowhere Man was published in Italy this week, two more reviews of the book have been posted--a five-star rave on Amazon Italy (in Italian) and a one-star hatchet job on Amazon Germany (in English). These critiques serve as a microcosm of what Nowhere Man has been subjected to for the past 11 years.

What I find fascinating about such divergent opinions is that the reviewers appear to be talking about two entirely different books. It’s a perfect illustration of the Oscar Wilde quote from the preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray: “Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself.”

Antony, the Italian reviewer, described Nowhere Man as an “excellent” book, and a narrative that “portrays a rock star as very sensitive and vulnerable.” He also said that the author and Paolo Palmieri, the translator, “have made John Lennon one of us,” and that it’s “a book to always have on hand, and occasionally to open and read a few lines to understand the simplicity” of life.

Dulce Erdt, the German reviewer, however, said that Nowhere Man is “confusing” and “revolting,” lacks “sensitivity” and “respect,” paints a “too negative” portrait of Lennon, and then insists, “We all know that John Lennon was not a ‘nowhere’ man, why is this author trying to tell the world the contrary?”

The other good lesson I learned about reviews is to never argue with critics, especially ignorant ones, like Dulce Erdt. But sometimes their ignorance is just too overwhelming to ignore. Which is why I will take this opportunity to point out to Fraulein Erdt that some of us are aware that Lennon’s song “Nowhere Man” is autobiographical. In other words, I didn’t have to tell the world about Lennon’s “Nowhere Man” status. He beat me to it by 34 years. Read More 
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Translator Rising

As Yoko Ono would be inclined to point out, yesterday, on the 18th day of the 9th month, the first article about the impending publication of Nowhere Man: Gli ultimi giorni di John Lennon (Coniglio) appeared in the Italian press. And what's extraordinary about this story, that ran in Il Tirreno, is that the book's translator (and my Italian Avatar), Paolo Palmieri, is mentioned in the headline, which roughly translates as "John Lennon's Diaries Translated by Palmieri."

Never before have I seen a translator featured so prominently in an article about Nowhere Man. But in this case the credit is well deserved—without Paolo, there would be no Italian edition.

This is really a story about a local boy who’s made good. The article says that Paolo’s translation of this international bestseller, born of Lennon’s personal diaries, has brought merit to his hometown of Piombino.

Paolo says his translation is “an act of love for a musician who I’ve always loved,” and that he’d dreamed of going to New York to meet the ex-Beatle, but Lennon was murdered before he could make the trip.

Already on sale in some bookstores, Nowhere Man’s “official” publication day is September 22. Read More 
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Lennon, Italian Style

I didn't know John Lennon had any Italian in him until I saw the cover of Nowhere Man: Gli ultimi giorni di John Lennon, which, I'm told, goes on sale in bookstores throughout Italy today. It is, of course, the cigarette in Lennon's hand that somehow gives him that Italian look. And as far as I know, it's the only cover of any Lennon bio in any language that shows him smoking.

The book should soon be available on the Internet, as well, but in a land where Kindle doesn’t exist, the real Nowhere Man action, I’m told, is going to be in le librerie of Rome, Milan, and… Piombino.

Yes, Piombino, a picturesque Tuscan city on a promontory jutting into the Mediterranean, where on a clear day you can see Elba. This is where my translator and Italian Avatar, Paolo Palmieri, lives. I’ve been there, and there’s a lot of Beatles energy in this town.

One place you can feel it is in Il Pinguino café on Piazza Della Costituzione. The owner, Simone, a published poet whose last name escapes me, has decorated the walls of his café with photos of the Beatles. When he heard that I’d written Nowhere Man, he recited for me—with Paolo supplying a simultaneous translation—a poem he’d written about the night Lennon was murdered, “The Last Tolls of Your Footsteps.”

So, if you find yourself in Piombino, perhaps stopping off there on your way to Elba or Sardinia, why not head over to Il Pinguino and say ciao to Simone. He might read you a poem. And, oh yeah, check out the wall in his Beatles room. I hear my picture’s hanging there, too. Read More 
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The Renaissance of Nowhere Man

Robert Rosen (left) and Paolo Palmieri, Pisa, Italy, March 2011. Photo by Mary Lyn Maiscott.
Last week my Italian translator, Paolo Palmieri, informed me that he had in his hands five printed copies of the Italian edition of Nowhere Man: Gli ultimi giorni di John Lennon, and that the book would be on sale in Italy in a few weeks. Could there be a more appropriate country for a Nowhere Man Renaissance?

My literary relationship with Paolo began three years ago, when I received an e-mail from a stranger in Tuscany who’d read an English language edition of Nowhere Man. “Why,” he asked, “is there no Italian edition?”

“Good question,” I replied.

Paolo took it upon himself to find a publisher—Coniglio—and then translate the book. For the first time I’ve had an opportunity to work closely with a translator, and clarify, over the course of about a thousand e-mails, the countless words and passages that would have otherwise been lost or obscured in translation, which Paolo then explained in footnotes—the first foreign language edition to do so. This translation, in short, is a labor of love.

Now that the book exists, Paolo is going to give readings, talk about it to the media, blog about it, tweet about it, and promote it in any way he can think of. Which makes him a lot more than my translator. He is my Italian Avatar.

It’s been more than 11 years since the original hardcover edition of Nowhere Man was published in the United States. Can we all just agree now that the book is a classic? Read More 
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