In the two decades since John Lennon was shot dead on a Manhattan sidewalk, the diaries he wrote during his last years of life have stood as one of pop music's most closely guarded secrets. The threat of litigation has shadowed anyone who wanted to quote the diaries in print, and a former employee of Lennon's was once prosecuted and found guilty of grand larceny for stealing them.
That history, however, doesn't daunt Geoffrey Giuliano. In the coming weeks, the 46-year-old celebrity biographer plans to release "Lennon in America," a highly critical, luridly detailed account of the ex-Beatle's life from 1971 to 1980. The book, he says, is based on years of research and interviews; but what's most eye-catching about this 270-page tome is right in its subtitle: "Based in Part on the Lost Lennon Diaries."
With an initial print run of 50,000 planned by Cooper Square Press, "Lennon in America" seems designed to stir a ruckus and infuriate Beatles fans. Among the book's many startling assertions: that at the age of 15, Lennon had a sexual encounter with his mother. That he was a sexual obsessive who fantasized about Barbara Walters. That he was briefly a born-again Christian and an ardent fan of evangelist Pat Robertson's "700 Club" television show. That he was so intent on slimming down that he was bulimic. That he beat both his wife, Yoko Ono, and their son, Sean.
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