A fan interviews Lennon

2009-11-18 00:00

BOOK REVIEW

I Met The Walrus

Jerry Levitan

HarperCollins Publishers

AN extension of a film by the same name, I Met The Walrus is Jerry ­Levitan’s account of his encounter with his idol John Lennon.

What is clear from the outset is Levitan’s obvious admiration for the pop phenomenon that was The Beatles, and, in particular, Lennon. Levitan, now in his mid-50s, is still haunted by Lennon’s legacy.

Levitan’s meeting with Lennon came about in 1969, after the ­14-year-old learned of the pop star’s visit to his home city of Toronto and tracked him down at the King ­Edward Hotel. What followed was a candid 40-minute interview with the pop star and Yoko Ono.

It is in this interview that everything in the book seems to become illuminated. What gives the book its ignition is the raw nature of the ­interview, conducted by a novice, a fan (as opposed to a more ruthless professional), which seems to ­disarm Lennon and put him at ease as he rambles on about whatever the discussion leads to. The result is an insight into Lennon’s thoughts that is seldom apparent in more mainstream interviews. ­

The interview was conducted with the help of a camera borrowed from the family (a “Brownie”), from which the photographs of Levitan, Lennon and Ono were taken.

Levitan went on to become an ­entertainer described as “one of Canada’s most innovative children’s performers”. He calls Lennon’s ­influence on him “a gift … my memories of him drift through my open mind, possessing and caressing me”, which underscores what we ­already know: Levitan is a fan who will forever bear a psychological watermark from meeting his idol.

The 163 pages has marvellous ­illustrations by James Braithwaite that come across in an intriguing, upbeat ­manner and give this book a flavour all its own. For Beatles fans, this is a must.

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