Paul McCartney: The Life by Philip Norman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Philip Norman is a writer that delves deep into any subject he tackles, and with Paul McCartney: The Life, it is no different. I've read two of Norman's other biographies (John Lennon: The Life and Mick Jagger) so I knew what I could expect. What I was interested in seeing most was how Norman handled the almost 13 years of overlapping information that had already appeared in Lennon's biography. This book gave a fresh perspective on those years apart from what was included in the Lennon bio, and provides much more insight into McCartney without being particularly intrusive or one-sided, which is a difficult thing to balance when writing a biography of a living person whose story isn't done yet.
This biography is different than any other McCartney biography out there—it doesn't focus solely on the Beatles years, doesn't dismiss the Wings era and provides insight into the developments of his personal life over the past twenty years. For most fans, the book by Barry Miles seemed to be the only comprehensive biography before this one, and as those fans know, it seemed to be a novel about Indica Gallery posing as a McCartney biography (which, revealed in Norman's book, was the way that McCartney wanted it).
As insightful as it was about McCartney, I couldn't help but noticed ever couple of chapters would end with an ominous allusion about Paul's infamous time in a Japanese jail in 1980. The foreshadowing appeared so often in the first half of the book, it became annoying (as were the handful of mentions of the jail time even after the event had been explored in the book). And when it comes down to it, as much as it marked a definitive point in his life, it wasn't made to seem as dire or horrible as the foreshadowing alluded to. However, this seemed to be the only noticeable flaw in an otherwise fascinating and well-researched biography. I can't wait to see who Norman writes about next.
*Received a copy of this book through NetGalley
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