a Novel by Dan Greenberger



If you are a fan of the Beatles or for that matter early Rock-n-Roll you must find a copy of this book . I blew though it in one night.

The Beatles Early yearsAs anyone familiar with the Beatles early years would know. They spent a fair amount of time in Germany perfecting their skills,their music,their talent and of course their Band. They would spend hours and hours every day to work on their craft. I can just about guarantee, if you know anything about the early Beatles you will love this book. Although it is a work of Historical fiction the author mixes fact that any true fan would know and fiction to create a great story.   The book captures the feeling of what it may have been like to be a so called fly on the wall at this time in history. Just before this group of boys from Liverpool would burst onto the world stage.

BUT! This is not the story of John ,Paul, George ,Stu,Pete or (Ringo)

This is in fact a story of a guy named Alan Levy. You see Alan is a self proclaimed poet. An American College student. An Ivy Leaguer from Columbia University spending a semester in Hamburg Germany to study Poetry. And that is where our story begins.

Upon arriving in Hamburg Alan needs to find a cheap place to live. He soon meets a girl named Astrid (yes that Astrid) . It just so happens she knows of a place that may be available. You see she knows a group of English boys that are staying at a place that has one room available.

Alan’s initial feeling about his new neighbors is they are loud and obnoxious. While he tries to sleep they are just coming home at three AM.

As he gets to know these guys we get an idea what it was like in 1960 Hamburg for the early Beatles.

I have an appreciation for the research that went into this book. The author conveys the individual personalities of each band member. How they feel about each other. Certain tensions in the Band. If I didn’t know better I would believe this novel to be a true story. I think the author Greenberger captures the personalities of the “Boys” perfectly. The interactions with their new neighbor is a lot of fun.

At times the story had me laughing out loud. This is a very well written story.The author makes it all very believable.  Some of the conversations within the group are just what you think it might have really been like. From thinking maybe they should try writing and playing their own music. to getting to the TOPPERMOST

You can see the author has a great appreciation of music as well.  There is a line in one of Chuck Berry’s song that I always thought was great. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one. This comes up in a conversation between John,Paul and Alan. They are trying to convince this student of Poetry that their Rock n Roll idol Chuck Berry is also a poet. It takes a little time but they do convince Alan of the beauty of Rock n Roll.

Oh and yes Alan does meet a Drummer from another band,you know the guy with the RINGS…

Like the best historical fiction, Greenberger takes the iconic Beatles and the real-life photographer Astrid Kirchherr, who helped create their early style and image, and brings them to life on the page. Musicians and the history of rock have often been explored through fiction (i.e., Kevin Barry’s Beattlebone, Tom Barbash’s The Dakota Winters, David Mitchell’s Utopia Avenue and Zachary Lazar’s Sway to name a few). However, the  uniqueness of The Boys Next Door is that our narrator gets to enjoy the Beatles before the rest of the world does. Fans of Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid will enjoy this journey through the lens of music in the 60s.

A beautiful epistolary story juxtaposed with memoir-like style evokes the feeling of young men in a time in flux (and sporting on the cover, one of the best photos taken of The Beatles by Astrid herself) The Boys Next Door is literary love story to poetry, rock music, Hamburg and The Boys Next Door.




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