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Flatbush Flashback

John Lennon, James Patterson, and the Hired Elves

John Lennon, James Patterson, and the Hired Elves.

Ad that ran on the back page of The New York Times Book Review.

 

I come here to neither bury nor praise James Patterson. I've not read his latest book, The Last Days of John Lennon, nor do I intend to. I don't read books written by elves who toil in Patterson's word factory, no matter how closely he oversees their work. Patterson is more brand name than author, and the elves in this case are named Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge. I assume they researched and wrote the book based on Patterson's outline and guidance.

 

My only interest in Patterson's (for simplicity's sake I'll refer to the three authors by their brand name) heavily promoted "true-crime story," as he calls The Last Days, is that my book Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon is cited in the notes. Naturally I was curious to see what scrap of information Patterson gleaned from my book.

 

The note section of Patterson's book is extensive. Virtually every fragment of information throughout The Last Days is attributed to a source. The Nowhere Man note is from Chapter 43. It says:

 

Playboy magazine: Robert Rosen, Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon (New York, Soft Skull Press, 2000), 180.

 

This isn't quite correct. Playboy magazine is mentioned on page 180 of the Quick American Archives edition, not the Soft Skull Press edition—a sloppy, though hardly tragic, mistake.

 

But sloppy research may also be apparent in the full-page back-cover ad for the book that recently appeared in The New York Times Book Review. In the ad, Patterson writes that the day after Lennon's murder, "I was in the huge, sad crowd gathered in Central Park." He seems to be referring to the vigil that took place December 14, six days after the murder.

 

I'm not usually a nitpicker when it comes to this kind of thing. And having made my share of factual mistakes in my own books, each one invariably pointed out by concerned readers, I understand just how easy (and human) it is to err. But considering that the two things I looked at—an endnote and a prominent newspaper ad—contained factual mistakes, I think it's an indication that the sloppy research is widespread, and that Patterson needs to hire a few more elves to do his fact checking.

 

The scrap of information he gleaned from Nowhere Man is straightforward: Lennon's assassin, Mark David Chapman, bought, at the Sheraton Center Hotel on Seventh Avenue, a copy of Playboy featuring an interview with John Lennon.

 

The scene is more or less mirrored in Chapter 43 of The Last Days, describing how Chapman gets into a cab, goes to the Sheraton Center, and buys Playboy and a copy of The Catcher in the Rye at a bookstore near the hotel.

 

Curiously, Patterson adds a fictional B-movie element to the scene: He has the cabdriver say to Chapman, "Get in, bud."

 

The book begins on December 6, 1980, with Chapman flying to New York from Hawaii. Patterson also adds some fictional elements to this scene. He has Chapman sitting in a cloud of cigarette smoke looking at his handgun permit.

 

I assume such fictional elements are pervasive, and I'll leave it to others to decide if Patterson achieved his goal of telling "a story that's almost impossible to stop reading," as he says in the ad. I was able to put the book down where I found it in the bookstore. I know the story well—too well. It's been told in about 400 other Lennon biographies, many of which I read when I was writing Nowhere Man. I feel no need to hear it again, as told by hired elves.

________

My latest book, Bobby in Naziland, is available on Amazon and all other online booksellers, as well as at your local brick-and-mortar bookstore, where you should (and probably can) buy it again.

 

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Hey, Hey You, Come Join My Cloud

 

Let's hang around on my new SoundCloud for a while. The first file I've uploaded is my reading from J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye at a Banned Books Week event in October 2012, at the 2A bar in the East Village. That's Eric Danville introducing me.

The other file is my complete Nowhere Man reading from this past October at a John Lennon event at 2A. That’s Eric Danville introducing me again. (A video of the first two parts of this reading is available here.)

Both files are downloadable.

In coming weeks, I’ll upload additional material from my archives—readings, interviews, and anything else that seems worth posting.

But for now, to commemorate the anniversary of Lennon’s murder on December 8, I give you The Catcher in the Rye and Nowhere ManRead More 

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Chapter 27


Normally, I'm less than satisfied with my readings, but this one, last night at 2A, is one of my better performances, and Michael Paul did a nice job capturing it on video. I'm reading from my book Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon.

The first part is the opening section of the chapter titled "Being Rich." The second part is all of "Chapter 27," my eyewitness account of the sentencing hearing of Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman, who believed that by shooting the ex-Beatle, he'd write the missing chapter of J. D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye in Lennon's blood. Read More 

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Lennonight

 

They were into wordplay, John and Yoko, especially when it came to their names, which lent themselves to a variety of combinations, like Lenono Music and Discono, a title John suggested for one of Yoko's LPs. In that spirit, I'm calling this post "Lennonight," which will take place at 8:00 PM, on Tuesday, October 15, in the upstairs lounge of the 2A bar in the East Village.

This is number four in the Tuesday night reading series that Eric Danville, Lainie Speiser, and I have been producing. We've christened our spoken-word collective Title TK, and Listen to This Reading is our celebration of John Lennon's birthday--he would have been 73 on October 9.

I’m going to read from my Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, specifically the opening chapter, “Being Rich,” the closing chapter, “Dakota Fantasy,” and “Chapter 27,” which is a reference to the nonexistent chapter of J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, the novel that drove Mark David Chapman to murder.

Mary Lyn Maiscott, who’s more accustomed to performing with a guitar in hand, will read from “Birth of a Song,” the Nowhere Man chapter that explores the inspiration behind Lennon’s “I’m Losing You,” which Mary Lyn covered at the first Bloomsday on Beaver Street.

Lainie will read from May Pang’s memoir, Loving John.

Other readers include actor David Healy, adult actress Alia Janine, actor James Sasser, and radio personality Ralph Sutton.

As always, admission is free and there’s no cover.

In other Title TK news, Lexi Love has created a long-awaited Bloomsday on Beaver Street page on her Website. The page features some very cool photos and the complete audio of her reading that night. Check it out for a taste of the unexpected drama you can expect on October 15, at 2A Read More 

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Great Moments in Literature

 

Last night, when I read from The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger, at 2A, in New York City, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Banned Book Week, I learned that it's easier to read from something you didn't write and feel detached from, than to read--as I've been doing for the past six months--an intimate passage from my own book Beaver Street, about how, as an experiment in participatory journalism, I got a blowjob for a photo shoot in a sleazy porn mag.

And speaking of blowjobs, last night may have been the first time in the history of Western Literature that a reading from the works of Linda Lovelace, author, was followed by a reading from the works of Salinger. And though few would argue that Lovelace is a better writer than Salinger, she is, arguably, a more prolific writer, and it's beyond question who's more skilled at the art of swallowing nine throbbing inches--a disciplined act of athleticism that Lovelace describes well in her banned book, Inside Linda Lovelace, read by event co-host Eric Danville to the appreciative audience.

I could go on talking about all the outstanding performances by a motley collection of writers, porn stars, and rockers, who included Lainie Speiser, Zoe Hansen & Raffaele, Shannon Conley, Rev Jen, Lisa Ann, and especially Puma Perl, who delivered an extraordinary reading of “To Fuck with Love,” by Lenore Kandel. But it’s all been documented on videotape, so you’ll soon be able to see it for yourself. I’ll post the video here as soon as I get my hands on it. Read More 

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Banned Books and Bloodsprayer

 

October has always been a good month for me, publicity-wise. It was in October, 13 years ago, that the first item about my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, appeared in Entertainment Weekly magazine, and ignited a firestorm of publicity that put the book on best-seller lists in five countries.

Judging by what happened yesterday, this October appears to be keeping true to form. The day began with an excellent piece in Adult Video News about banned books in general and the Banned Book Week event I'll be participating in tonight, at 8:00, in New York City, at 2A in the East Village. I've never before taken part in a group reading with a porn star, so this should be both interesting and raucous. The porn star, Lisa Ann, best known for playing "Serra Paylin" in the Hustler video series, will be reading from Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James. I'll be reading from The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger. And it's FREE. See the full lineup here.

Then the day ended with The Bloodsprayer posting part 2 of my epic Beaver Street interview. If you’re undecided about whether or not to come tonight, allow me, as I did with part 1, to boil down part 2 to the top 5 pull quotes.

“In the 60-odd pages Traci Lords devotes to porn in her book, in virtually every case she leaves out the Five Ws—who, what, where, when, and why—saying she was drunk and stoned the whole time and forgot everything that happened.”

“A normal company would have put Mario Puzo’s and Stan Lee’s typewriters in a glass case and employees would have been required to genuflect every time they walked by. But at Swank, it appeared as if the Goodman family didn’t want Martin Goodman’s sacred name sullied by the stench of his son’s smut.”

“The amateur exhibitionists are putting the professional studs and starlets out of business.”

“I say in the Beaver Street prologue that I wrote the book ‘to understand the cumulative psychic effect of having spent 192 months immersed in XXX and wondering if I’d ever get out alive.’ So, yes, writing it was cathartic.”

With any luck at all, I’ll be equally provocative tonight. Hope to see you at 2A. Read More 

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Why "The Catcher in the Rye"?

 

Of all the banned books in the world to read from, and there are thousands, why am I reading from J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye at the Banned Book Week event at 2A tomorrow night? Because of the connection between that book and Nowhere Man, my John Lennon bio. As I will explain at the reading, The Catcher in the Rye is a book that drives people crazy. And it has 26 chapters. Mark David Chapman read it and decided to kill John Lennon--to save the world from Lennon's phoniness. He believed that by killing Lennon he'd write Chapter 27 in Lennon's blood and then he'd literally disappear into the book to become the Catcher in the Rye for his generation.

I wrote about all this in Nowhere Man. In the last section of the book, “The Coda,” I detail Chapman’s descent into madness as he travels from Hawaii to New York to carry out his mission. In the book’s final chapter, “Chapter 27,” I describe Chapman’s 1981 court hearing, which I attended as a journalist. Rather than stand trail, Chapman pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years to life. In the courtroom, as his statement to the world, he read from chapter 22 of The Catcher in the Rye, the part where Holden Caulfield tells his sister that he wants to be the catcher in the rye.

None of this has anything to do with why the book was banned. It was banned because Holden talks too much about sex. And Salinger captures his voice perfectly, which is the real magic of The Catcher in the Rye.

Hope you can stop by and listen to all the readings. And please check out this excellent article in Adult Video News about the event, and banned books in general. Read More 

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A Really Big Show

Just a reminder that in celebration of Banned Book Week, I, along with eight other authors and one porn star (you can see the full lineup here) will be reading from banned books on Thursday, October 4, at 8 P.M. in the upstairs lounge at 2A (25 Avenue A on the corner of Avenue A and East Second Street, phone 212-505-2466). And it's free!

As far as literary events go, I suspect this Vicious Circus production is going to be unusually interesting. Never before have I received pre-show instructions telling me that because performances are going to be projected, 30-feet high, on the building across the street, I am not permitted to take off my clothes (not that I was planning on doing that) or wear a T-shirt with an obscenity on it (not that I was planning on doing that, either).

The 90-minute show will be videotaped, and if there’s time, we will take questions at the end. I’m on fourth and will be reading from J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. Please arrive early. It’s going to be packed.

In the meantime you can read Part 1 of my interview with The Bloodsprayer. I’ll have more to say about this tomorrow. Read More 
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