Shoulda been there

Shoulda been there, by Jude Southerland Kessler

Review by Mario J. Otero
Edition read
Book title:
Soulda been there
Jude Southerland Kessler
Penin Inc Publishing, LLC
Date published:
N° of pages:

Goodreads is a website for readers and book lovers. You can review there the books you read and rate them rather subjectively from 1 to 5 stars, where four stars mean “I really liked it” (and "really" means REALLY), and five stars is “it was amazing.”

I just finished reading Shoulda Been There and rated it five stars.

This book seemed to me amazing and this rating reflects how much I liked a mix of the subject, the style, the research, the effort, the time, and the love that Jude Kessler is putting in her project, The John Lennon Series, of which this is just the first volume of nine; three have been published and the fourth volume is on the way.
I had bought the book time ago, directly from Jude Kessler who was very kind to sign it to me with a lovely inscription, and I only came to read it now. In the interim, I have also bought volumes 2 and 3.

I have been a Beatles fan for about 45 years now since I contracted Beatlemania. But Jude Kessler's is an acute case of this incurable "illness". More than a fan, she is a devotee who has made a way of life out of her hobby or pastime. By force of researching and writing, she has become an expert in Beatles in general and in John Lennon in particular. In her quest, she has lived much more than any fan has dreamed about. Her research is much more than what is written: having lived it, spoken with the protagonists (protagonists of history), being in the places, etc., is something that can never be transmitted and that will be in her very self for her satisfaction all her life.

She has been very generous to put all that in her books: just the writing alone is already a project in itself.

The book is a work of fiction using her thorough and detailed research to weave an enormous amount of facts into a chronological account of the events put in the voices of the characters. Here is where the warmth of the fiction melts with the coldness of facts to produce scenes and recreate possible situations and imagine dialogs and discussions that may have actually happen. Like this, the author manages to put you in the very same room, house, bar, pub, stage, van, train, school, or wherever the action takes place and lets you participate in events that today are history by almost listening to, rather than reading, the voices of the people with their accents and slang. It is interesting also that she plays with the lyrics of Beatles songs by interspersing into the text verses from songs, much to the pleasure of the fans who can catch them. In the same way, she plays with the future, by making subtle mentions to what the time to come will bring to the characters.

And at the end of the chapters, while you still feel in John's room or in Brian's office or feel the smell in Ye Cracke or The Blue Angel, she helps you get your feet back on the ground and tells you what of what you have just read is fact and what is conjecture. Surprisingly enough, this doesn't kill the magic of the reading but rather highlights the value of the historic document that you have in hands and heart. Other characteristic worth to notice in the notes at the end of chapters (and in the whole book): Jude gives all the credit to her sources, she recommends them even saying that in certain cases they may be more precise or better than what she may have written. And she points up also where the sources disagree either in facts, in dates, in places, leaving the aura of mystery and legend that the story of the fab four already has, leaving open the doubt and giving so priority to the story, not to favor one version or the other, not to favor one source or the other, notwithstanding how dear the sources are to her.

The author writes Scouse as it is pronounced to highlight in their speech the origin of the people. Writing as the personages speak is a very frequent resource: look for example at Mark Twain or Harper Lee. However, I had to get adjusted to it, even read the words aloud, to understand what was meant. This made to me the reading a little awkward, though it also may be due to not being a native English speaker or much less being familiar with the Liverpudlian dialect.

I recommend the reading of this book to any Beatles and Rock and Roll follower, because of the disciplined research and vast amount of factual information, for the style that turns an otherwise plain and cold list of events into a lovely fictionalized story and for the love and energy that pours through every line of this book. This is why I found it amazing.

Enjoy your reading.

MJOD, Bogotá, May 2016


Entradas populares