Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Gift Guide: Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney by Howard Sounes

You only have to look at Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney (Da Capo) to know that it is going to at least try to be exhaustive: it’s a very thick book. But let’s face it: McCartney deserves a big biography. Considering the magnitude of his star, there haven’t been many books on the ex-Beatle’s life. And there’s probably some massive fan out there who can tell me why two in-depth looks at this musician should come out in the same publishing season, but I can’t imagine what it is.

Though Peter A. Carlin’s Paul McCartney: A Life (Touchstone) offers a breezy look at McCartney’s life, in some ways that book focuses too sharply on the Beatles years. Admittedly, those are the significant years of McCartney’s story, but he’s traveled many miles since.

Fab author Howard Sounes (Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life) does a very thorough job of researching McCartney’s early life as well as the post-Beatles years, including the ex-Beatle’s disastrous second marriage and his 2008 album.

Fab is an enjoyable book. If there is, in the end, no real secrets revealed, as well as little we truly didn’t know about McCartney, it seems possible that’s par for the course. For one of the wealthiest and successful musicians alive, McCartney comes across as mostly even and happy and almost disappointingly normal in many ways. If you want a rock biography dripping with revelations, try Rolling Stone Keith Richards’ Life (Little, Brown) from earlier this fall.

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