Berkenstadt brings excellent investigative skills to this bio of a forgotten replacement Beatle, but its last section will...

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THE BEATLE WHO VANISHED

Internationally recognized Beatles expert Berkenstadt spent six years researching every nook and cranny of the musical career of enigmatic replacement drummer Jimmie Nicol.

Berkenstadt’s impressively detailed book opens with a 24-year-old Jimmie receiving the phone call that would change his life, inviting him to temporarily take Ringo Starr’s place on the Beatles’ first world tour during June 1964. (Ringo had been hospitalized with tonsillitis.) Berkenstadt instantly draws the reader into his tale of this little-known drummer from the borough of Wandsworth, England, and then progresses through eight chapters, telling his back story. One band follows another as Nicol builds his reputation as a versatile drummer in the 1950s and ’60s—Colin Hicks and His Cabin Boys, Vince Eager and the Quiet Three, The Rabin Band, the Cyril Stapleton Band, Jimmie Nichol and the Shubdubs—until the book reaches fever pitch with the Beatles’ world tour. Berkenstadt rightly devotes five chapters to the 13 days Jimmie spent with the Beatles. The author manages to generate a phenomenal amount of energy around the little-known drummer, using first-rate historical details, rare photographs and memorabilia illustrations; the dynamic photos, especially, lend this bio legitimacy and appeal. Unfortunately, the author drags out the story’s denouement for eight more chapters using the same level of detail. In his enthusiastic effort to do justice to Nicol’s entire career—not just the Beatles segment—he seemingly forgets his more casual readers. Hard-core rock-and-roll enthusiasts will enjoy it, but average readers will find Chapters 9-13, which are fantastic, of most interest.

Berkenstadt brings excellent investigative skills to this bio of a forgotten replacement Beatle, but its last section will likely only appeal to die-hards.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0985667702

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Rock And Roll Detective Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2013

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An energetic yawp of entertaining wordplay and outlaw attitude.

POSEIDON'S TUNNEL

Looking for a pungent stew with mysterious chunks of hip-hop culture, bizarre fantasia and yuppie angst? You’ll find it in this lurid mashup of experimental fiction and verse.

Maggots (Quickies, 2013) is the pseudonym of a physician with a yen for gangsta posturing and a deep bottom drawer that he has emptied out into this disjointed collection of brief feuilletons. To wit: a bro hanging with his “Filipina gangbangin’ bitches”; rap lyrics translated into nerd-speak (“Surely my criminal record involves more egregious felonies with an overall longer time of incarceration”); naturalistic short stories about alienation and sexual debauchery at a Caribbean medical school; and an enigmatic yarn that begins: “This is Hander Snatchrocket reporting from Seattle, Washington, USA, Milky Way Galaxy, Sector 17-3, Vortex Q7…where I’m reporting live undead.” Readers can also follow a rant about bad drivers in minivans; poems that veer from modernist word art (“But what a, what a but a, / Nut some butter and a tub of watta”) to postmodernist word art (“Hello? Dissociation? Dissociation? Dissociation? Dis-association”); reams of one-liners from a Facebook page; and a piece called “Vampirism and Necrophilia” that quite unnecessarily elaborates on the title. What holds this riotous tome together is its point of view—that of a smart, disaffected young man, ensconced in the well-heeled professional class yet yearning for the nihilism of the streets. Thus, readers get fantasies of tearing down the highway shooting at cops; Darwinian meditations on the theme of “Your Life Has no Meaning”; hymns to drugs (“Life wit_out _eroin— / Is t_at really life at all?”); and dirges to marriage (“To settle down is to give up and die”). Less convincingly, the book’s affirmative epiphany comes during an uncharacteristically mawkish sojourn at Burning Man, where the narrator discovers “caring, concerned, fun, intelligent, unbiased men and women” embedded in “an enlightened, socially and environmentally conscious international community.” Maggots has an arresting authorial voice, plenty of imagination, loads of verbal talent and wiseass verve—something like William S. Burroughs had he been an Iranian-American medical student straight outta Compton—but he’s also a fantastically undisciplined writer. Here’s hoping he yokes his literary brio to something more sustained and deeply thought through.

An energetic yawp of entertaining wordplay and outlaw attitude.

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4923-6072-8

Page Count: 270

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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