I had put off reading any Springsteen books until I was done with my Springsteen book, and then I put off reading any Springsteen books because I had spent six weeks writing and publishing one. So although Peter Ames Carlin’s Bruce has been sitting in my TBR pile for about two months (thanks to a co-worker), I am only starting it now. I know I do not have the energy to write one long review at the end, so I am going to post chapter-by-chapter reviews as I make my way through the book.
In the clearest, quickest way possible, Carlin either brings you up to speed or introduces you to the extended Springsteen family, back to Douglas’ parents, and then over to Adele’s family. (For non-Springsteen fans reading this, Bruce’s mother’s name is Adele. God this causes confusion nowadays when he brings her onstage to dance.) The detail about Springsteen’s paternal grandparents is new, and enlightening, and tragic. He even covers the genealogy placing the Springsteens in Monmouth County in about three paragraphs. This is all stuff that could be very dry or impenetrable, but it’s all highly readable, and he also makes it relevant by providing context as to why the various elements are important.
He also does a fantastic job of grounding the family in the physical confines of Freehold. If you’ve been, it will leap to life; if you haven’t, that’s what Google Street View is for.
The other fascinating element is how many themes of Springsteen’s work are immediately obvious; the “We Are Alive” story is here, of course, which was new up until recently — but I’m not even talking about Douglas Springsteen’s various jobs or the carpet mill, but lesser known elements like the origins of “Outlaw Pete,” a competing “Glory Days” theory, and the very beginnings of “My Father’s House”.
The writing style is beautiful and clear and is going to make this a super-quick read, I can tell already.