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3.45  ·  Rating details ·  2,215 ratings  ·  404 reviews
He will spend three days alone on his island. That is all that he asks . . . John is so many miles from love now and home. This is the story of his strangest trip.

John owns a tiny island off the west coast of Ireland. Maybe it is there that he can at last outrun the shadows of his past.

The tale of a wild journey into the world and a wild journey within, Beatlebone is a
Hardcover, 263 pages
Published October 29th 2015 by Canongate
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Average rating 3.45  · 
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 ·  2,215 ratings  ·  404 reviews

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Barry Pierce
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In the late 1960s John Lennon bought an island off the west coast of Ireland. Most Irish people are aware of it. Ask anyone about John Lennon's island or 'Beatle Island' and they'll know what you're talking about. Beatlebone is a fictionalised tale of John Lennon's attempt to visit his island in 1978 in order to combat his writer's block and to finally have a place to Scream. And it is a masterpiece.

The novel is far from conventional. In fact, it won the Goldsmith's Prize, which is an award
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A surreal, poetic and wild tribute to John Lennon by another of Ireland's talented young writers. This book imagines Lennon travelling round the west of Ireland trying to reach an island he owns while evading the attention of the press. This leads to a series of strange encounters and reminiscences, some of which have some factual basis, and explorations of his Liverpool Irish roots. There is also a chapter about two thirds of the way through in which Barry explains his own motivations and how ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Author Kevin Barry crossbreeds the myth/legend of John Lennon with the man he was, in this fable-like, surreal story of one Beatle’s odyssey. Lennon bought an island in Western Ireland almost a decade before, also known as Beatle Island. He’d only been once. Now, it’s 1978, and he’s in the midst of his dry years. He hasn’t produced new material since the 1974 Walls and Bridges; he’s busy baking bread and being a househusband, giving all his attention to Yoko and their toddler son, Sean. He’s ...more
Peter Boyle
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“People go strange out here, John. You wouldn’t be the first and you wouldn’t be the last.”

Dorinish island

This wild, free-wheeling tale imagines a visit by John Lennon to Dorinish island (pictured above) off the west coast of Ireland in 1978. Haunted by his own demons, particularly the premature death of his mother Julia, he intends to spend three days by himself and "scream his fucking lungs out." Things don't go exactly to plan. For one thing John can't remember which one of the 365 islands in the bay
Dec 10, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
I have no idea what just happened.

I just read an entire book, and all I can get out of it is that John Lennon was talking to a seal at some point.

I may need a coles notes for my book club on this one.
Sep 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2016
The year 1978 was not a creatively rewarding one for John Lennon – yes, THAT John Lennon. He spent most of his time in America, playing househusband and nursemaid to his young son Sean. After undergoing primal scream therapy with Arthur Janov, he viewed himself as unburdened…yet he was also creatively blocked.

This is the John Lennon we meet in Kevin Barry’s audacious and often brilliant new novel, Beatlebone. At the start of the novel, he has escaped from the heart of New York City to the west
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a 4 and a half star book for me. I am a fan of the author and of the late John Lennon. I like the uncooperative "attitude" of the west of Ireland - the relentless rain, the locals who may pretend to be obtuse, and the evasive sun. The author captures these aspects of Mayo which becomes another character in the book in addition to John Lennon and Cornelius, his local driver.
It is 1978 and John is desperate to get to an island in Clew Bay that he bought years earlier. Much of their time
Jul 10, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amy by: alt.TOB
started on audio & switched over to print... it didn't help.
At first blush, this was merely irritating in the way that Adele is irritating when singing about “when we were young” when she is twenty-freaking-five. Most of the time I can forget that she is a (hyperbolically successful) child and focus on her vocals and turns of phrase. But when every station of the radio plays her songs every 30 minutes and she must remind us that she is SO OLD and can NEVER REGAIN SO MUCH in every new single,
Apr 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
The silence that holds is easier now and London is pinkly waking. They've been through a lot together. The rattling of the bones; the squalls and the screeching; the occult shimmers; the lonely airs; the sudden madcap waltzes; the hollowed voices; the sibilant hiss; the asylum screams; the wretched moans; the violence, love, and tenderness – beatlebone. The first of the buses goes by at a sprightly chug.

Beatlebone was on my radar last year, but without ordering it from abroad, I couldn't get a
Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved City of Bohane, with its tensions, character and humour illuminated by beautiful prose and poetic-but-true speech rhythms.

With Beatlebone, it's as if the author thinks we'll love his writing style so much that we don't really need anything else. It didn't work for me. Yes, there is beautiful prose, and poetic-but-true speech - but it wasn't enough. I've seen this book described as a comedy but it didn't make me laugh.
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

First of all this was by no means an easy read, with an almost hallucinatory feel to much of the book - as befitting one written about John Lennon no doubt -and it has kind of an odd structure in that half way through Kevin Barry interjects as himself and explains the back story to the book and the Island. Don’t get me wrong I appreciated the insight and it did help to clarify much of what had gone before and came after, I did puzzle over why that particular piece was where it was though. Why
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5+ out of 5.
What if John did disappear, sometime in spring 1978, out to his island? He was wont to strike out on his own in those days, to find solace in anonymity as he approached middle-age with a great big writer's block around his neck. What if, in a moldering pile of old film, we could glimpse him pushing the camera away? "Was that John Lennon?!" someone might ask and someone else would say, "What, are you daft?" and it would be forgotten all over again. What if the beatlebone record DID
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Kevin Barry’s Beatlebone is my book of the year. It’s a riotous romp full of the most unexpected surprises and captivated me from start to finish.

It tells the story of a 37-year-old man named John, who is going through a kind of personal crisis. He wants to spend some much-needed time alone to contemplate his past and figure out his next move. He owns an uninhabited island off the west coast of Ireland, which he’s never visited before, so he decides to spend three days there — alone.

The trouble
Always Pink
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irishdelights
A writerly, phantastic and somewhat 'flowery' approach to Lennon's complex character. Manages to capture John's idiolect beautifully and allows the (younger) reader a glimpse into the very special mindset and vibes of the '70s. Barry also managed (probably all too successfully for his own good) to immerse himself into the inner turmoils and hauntings of his idol. "Off the hinge" is an expression used regularly here to describe mental states - and quite rightly so. One is tempted to call this a ...more
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: orgasmic
This is the kind of novel that every now and again revives my hopes of what contemporary fiction could be. Not trying to speak for its generation, not an ego thing, not zeitgiesty, but somehow timeless, limitless, and goshdarn fun. With sensational wordage, and by mixing fiction, imaginative non-fiction, his own personal traveloguey stuff, and by some weird shamanic tapping into the spirit of the whole endeavour, Kevin Barry has knocked it out of the park and oh how it is teary and victorious.
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

For the past five minutes I have been deleting and re-writing sentences for this review. Sure I can say that this book is great, especially if you are a fan of The Beatles and experimental literature but somehow that does not cut it.

Beatlebone's appeal is by many things. For starters the language used is poetic. Think of short sentences stuffed with puns and Beatles references. Then there's a the plot. John Lennon is visiting one of the islands (in reality he did have an island of his own) he
Beatlebone is an extraordinary imagining of John Lennon in 1978 by Kevin Barry. It has John attempting to reach his Irish island of Dorinish with his driver Cornelius. The media are there in their hordes to photograph and interview him, and Cornelius takes John on a madcap trip in efforts to avoid them.

The book is a surreal, lyrical and poetic journey into John’s dry spell in songwriting, his current NYC family set up and isolation, Liverpool, love, and his memories about family - mum, dad,
I couldn't resist getting this book after hearing the author talk on the radio. The premise on which the book is based and the way it is written is so entirely wacky. John Lennon owned an island off the coast of Western Ireland (fact). He visited it a coupe of times and intended to build a house there (fact). He was into Primal Scream therapy wich was popular at the time in California (fact).

From these facts and from listening to numerous radio interviews with John Lennon, Kevin Barry
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Picking up this book and looking at the title, I immediately started thinking of the Blur song "Beetlebum." As it turns out, that tune's ethereal, hallucinatory (and Beatlesque) quality was absolutely appropriate for this novel, and I've been walking around singing it for three days straight.

BEATLEBONE is what may be the result if you gather the small handful of genuinely talented Beatles fanfiction writers, give them something weird to smoke, and lock them all in a rural Irish hotel room
Sep 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
enjoyable hybrid novel/musing on Lennon and an imaginary visit to a real island he bought off the coast of Ireland. Fact and speculation intermingle. Some of it interesting, some not so (wasn't that interested in the fake 'ranting' session in the Amethyst hotel for example; but loved the stuff on Lennon's mother and father meeting and on Lennon in the streets of Liverpool in the 50s). As Corey says a must for any Beatles fan (although not much Beatles stuff in it - most set before and after the ...more
Nov 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Two parts to this review because it was my first experiment with audio books. So, let's start there.

I wanted to try an audiobook and I was attracted to ones read by the author: it seems to me that hearing an author read a book might be a way to get a better understanding of what that author was trying to communicate. I listened to the first half of this book read by Barry and it was, I think, excellent. But, I quickly reached the opinion that, in fact, I prefer to read a book for myself rather
Bob Schnell
I downloaded the e-book of Kevin Barry's "Beatlebone" because I wanted to test my library's e-book platform and it was the only book that came up for the keyword "Beatles" that wasn't already checked out. I figured that as long as I had it for 21 days, I should read it. I did not know that the author is an award-winning Irish writer with a unique style that readers either love or hate. I did both.

The story, what there is of it, concerns a fictional trip by John Lennon in 1978 to the Irish island
Nov 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My rating is strictly based on personal preference and has nothing to do with the quality of the writing.

Originally I was very excited to read Beatlebone as it was giving me an interesting insight into one of the greatest minds (albeit drug-induced). The style of writing definitely fits the psychedelic feeling that the author tried to convey. Unfortunately, it wasn't a style of writing that I was able to follow. The book had a Benjy from "The Sound and the Fury" feeling to it when John went on
Nov 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is like a buddy/road trip story, only one of the buds is John Lennon in 1978 trying to get to a remote island in hopes that the solitude will bring him out of his post-Primal Scream writer's block (ah yes, the seventies!), and the other is a local chauffeur/fixer and one of the great Irish characters of all time. Yes, I love this book. Now do yourself a favor and listen to the audiobook, because Kevin Barry himself reads it and he is wonderful!!! You can thank me later.
Nov 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
you will notice that this is not by Iris Murdoch.
Unsurprisingly strange.

Beatlebone is certainly imaginative in many ways, but if all it takes to write and sell a book is to fill half of it with f-bombs, then we'd all be rolling in it right now. The author's excessive use of curse words ultimately renders them meaningless. Perhaps this is what Barry intended, but in my mind, if you're going to curse, at least make it count.

Content-wise, this book is a wild ride, showcasing an aging, depressed, and very, very tired John Lennon as he traverses
Stephen Goldenberg
Racing through a lot of short novels at the moment.
Kevin Barry is yet another author off the Irish production line who's inherited the gift for writing sumptuous prose and poetic dialogue. I'm not entirely sure what the point of this novel is but, on the whole, I enjoyed it.
It's 1978 and John Lennon is escaping his newly domesticised life in New York by heading for solitude on a tiny island off the coast of Ireland which he bought in the 60s. He also needs to find inspiration for some songs for
Robert Day
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are words for this kind of writing. Maybe stream of consciousness, maybe close third-person. Something like that. The words just pour out of the author and are made to look like they pour out of the character. The character is an imagining of John Lennon. Hard to tell what is made up and what is the result of meticulous research. I don't think that I'd like to be written about like this. Lucky for John, and lucky for the author, that John is dead.

There are six chapters good, one chapter
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fab hypothetical story about Lennon visiting a Irish island he owned— lovely passages that are nearly poetry but not pretentious— makes me want to visit Ireland!
Jan 03, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
John Lennon (resp. Kevin Barry), suffering a period of creative exhaustion following recent success, goes on a vision quest to the west of Ireland. He receives there the inspiration required to produce an album (novel) in nine parts, which is completely without merit.
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Kevin Barry is an Irish writer. He is the author of two collections of short stories, and the novel City of Bohane, which was the winner of the 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
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“It's about what you've got to put yourself through to make anything worthwhile. It's about going to the dark places and using what you find there.” 4 likes
“Never name the moment for happiness or it will pass by.” 4 likes
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