Monday, December 17, 2012

Review of Peter Carlin's "Bruce"

Sarfraz Manzoor reviews Calin's Bruce.  Here is a taste:

Carlin creates a convincing portrait of a man whose writing is imbued with empathy for those let down by the American dream but who is himself alive to his talent, alert to ambition, and willing to do whatever is needed to follow his muse.

There is little sex or drugs in this rock 'n' roll tale: there are seven entries in the index under "drugs and alcohol, disdained by." When he sees an unnamed band member holding a cocaine spoon up to the nose of another member he snarls: "If. I. Ever. F--. See. This. Again. They're gone. On the spot. I'll fire them."

A former girlfriend suggests that "Bruce was afraid of being happy because it would screw up his creative force," while Carlin's account of the breakup of the E Street Band reveals how brutal and painful the event still is, even 20 years later. When Springsteen rang the drummer Max Weinberg with the bad news, he said: "It's just something I have to do artistically."

Later, Springsteen was to re-form the band, and the past decade has been hugely productive with five albums in the past seven years - a fact Carlin suggests might be related to Springsteen's use of antidepressants from 2003.

This anti-depressant-taking, therapist-visiting, more than a little narcissistic and occasionally bad-tempered Bruce is not the Springsteen we think we know, and that is what makes this book such a compelling portrait of the artist as a complex, conflicted and charismatic man.