Friday, June 4, 2010
Paul Is Undead
How can you resist a book that begins:
For some, the most indelible memory of their television-viewing lives was the moment Jack Ruby assassinated Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963. For others, it was Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing. For today’s generation, it might have be fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, or the coverage of the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001.
I realized television was more than sitcoms and sporting events on December 8, 1980, the night Mark David Chapman tried to lop off John Lennon’s head with a silver scythe.
Alan Goldsher's illustrated novel is more than your typical mash-up. It's a wide-ranging cultural satire that makes fun of the rock-n-roll "oral history" genre. In his quest to ferret out the real story behind The Beatles zombie-tude, the "author" interviews historians, psychologists, Liverpudlian nightclub owners, John Lennon's mom, and of course The Fab Four themselves, who reminisce together about such hilarious events as the time Ringo's arm flew across the stage during a concert, or George Harrison's fingers dropped off during a key recording session.
I myself haven't indulged much in the mash-up genre, but this one was so sharp and entertaining that I found it hard to put down.
The question was, since the book travels back and forth across the Atlantic, which way to go with the casting? Should we have an American spoof the Brits, or a Brit spoof the Americans? In the end I figured the Fab Four themselves had to be the key, so I sent the title to British narrator Simon Vance. Simon is a self-professed rock-n-roll history buff, and he recently recorded When Giants Walked the Earth, a biography of Led Zeppelin, for Blackstone. I figured this would be the perfect follow-up. And by all reports he has had a gleeful time with it. He tells me that, in order to preserve the integrity of the voice characterizations in the four-way interviews, he recorded each Beatle's lines separately, then edited them all together. That's above and beyond the call!
Word is that the book has been optioned for a movie, which ought to be even more fun.
Paul Is Undead: The British Zombie Invasion pubs in book form and audio on June 22.