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The best Springsteen bio...so far,
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This review is from: Bruce (Hardcover)Peter Ames Carlin's biography of Paul McCartney wasn't quite the definitive Macca bio...but it was the best so far. Same thing with this examination of Springsteen's life. It's great, but with an extra push he could have pushed this into a form of transcendence.
Overall, I liked the writing. It's mostly breezy, and even the footnotes are fun. Some of the phrases made me cringe--they weren't quite purple prose, but a long dip into the inkpot--but I found it engaging. (As a consequence, though, the readability of Carlin's art made the clunkers stand out even more.) With close to three decades of Bruce fandom under my belt, I learned a lot about the man, his early years and of course his career. (Example: For the first time, I think, I finally 'got' the Mike Appel lawsuit.) Clearly Carlin researched his topic thoroughly, and his account of the early days of Springsteen's career has a day-to-day immediacy to it that is exhilarating.
My main complaint is that the ending doesn't hold up to the first four hundred pages or so. Events are presented a bit out of order, or then there's a first mention of a person who, it occurs to you, should have been mentioned many chapters before. Much of what is depicted there has the air of 'You already know this, so I'll rush through it.' For all the effort put into illustrating the Boss' early years and first couple of albums, I would have appreciated a similar treatment for (to date) late-Springsteen music--even if it made the bio run another couple hundred of pages (or even into a second volume at a later date).
Do I recommend this book? Sure. As I said, it's the best Boss bio so far. But can it be topped? One day, perhaps. In BRUCE, Carlin, as he did with McCartney, presents his subject as human, driven, mercurial, brilliant and flawed--which is really all one can hope for from a well-done biography.