“In a hundred years from now,” John Lennon sang in a satirical home demo he recorded in New York in 1978, “they’re going to be selling my socks, like Judy Garland! And I hope they get a good price!” So the founder of the Beatles predicted this day would come — and as editor Hunter Davies makes clear in his prefatory remarks to “The John Lennon Letters,” even the ex-Beatle’s unsigned grocery lists and skimpiest doodles now command five figures at Sotheby’s.
A massive deposit of freshly excavated notes, screeds, asides and howls, each lavishly reproduced and carefully annotated, “Letters” is the most intimate book ever published about Lennon. In its revelation of the man’s psychology, it far surpasses all previous accounts by wives, lovers, half-siblings, ex-aides and even the best biographers. This is Lennon unfiltered and characteristically defiant, scrawling ferociously across lined paper, homemade Christmas cards, Indian novelties, fading Apple Corp. letterheads. Fans of the Beatles and Lennon, students of popular culture, armchair lovers of English and Irish wit, and anyone fascinated by the inner workings of the creative mind: All will find Davies’s book essential.