Paul McCartney’s The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, edited by Paul Muldoon (Allen Lane), was one of the critics' most reviewed books this week. The book was mentioned in the Observer, Daily Mail, Telegraph, Times, Irish Times, Washington Post and the New Yorker.
The Times' John Walsh said: “This vast, absorbing book is studded with McCartneyisms that make you rub your eyes.” The Observer named it book of the week with David Hepworth saying: “Neither lyrics nor commentary will be studied quite as closely as the pictures of Paul looking fabulous for more than 50 years.”
In the Daily Mail, Christopher Stevens said the title “provides a fascinating new insight into his life at the time they were written, and the lives of his fellow Beatles”.
The songwriter's book was given four stars by the Telegraph, with the publication describing it as “charming” but noting it failed “to support Muldoon’s pretentious assessment that he is one of the great literary figures of our time”.
McCartney was also included in an Irish Times article titled “A feast of books on their way before the year’s end”. The publication stated its delight at the book recounting all the stages of McCartney’s career with “unparalleled candour”.
Over in the US, the New Yorker's David Remnick interviewed McCartney. The book also picked up a mention in the Washington Post, with David Kirby saying reading it was “like standing in a master chef’s kitchen as he prepares a dish, adding a dash of this and a spoonful of that and talking to us so winningly that we don’t realise till later that he has withheld an ingredient, one that, because he was so deeply engaged himself, he didn’t know he was withholding”.
The Lyrics has also been shortlisted for the Waterstones Book of the Year 2021 prize, with the British book retailer praising it as “a unique insight into one of the most beloved and influential songwriters of all-time”.
Also this week, White Review Short Story Prize 2019 winner Vanessa Onwuemezi dominated the reviews, with her debut short story collection Dark Neighbourhood (Fitzcarraldo Editions) picking up mentions in the Scotsman, Guardian, Financial Times and Telegraph.
Her collection was haied as “beautiful, vertiginous and enriching” by the Guardian’s David Hayden. The Scotsman’s Laura Waddell named the collection her book of the week, calling Dark Neighbourhood “a confidently surreal set of tales about families, private agonies, bodies, life and death, taking place in worlds a little familiar and a little fanciful.”
In the Telegraph, Susannah Goldsbrough said: “Onwuemezi conjures nightmarish urban landscapes that swallow their protagonists. Each story in the book is like a window in an apartment block: lonely squares of light in the dark.”
Over in the Financial Times, Baya Simons dubbed the work “not a flawless collection, but there are stories here that give shape to incoherence with a precision and style that is dazzling”.
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