Lose yourself in Bruce Springsteen’s memoir

A book you can’t put down! A critic observed that Bruce could become a full-time novelist if he wanted, because he’s that good a writer. Which his fans already know, because his lyrics are great. What you learn in the book is that he realized, early on, that writing was his strength. And he applied a blue collar work ethic to becoming a rock star.

He is really good at describing feelings that are hard to articulate. He captures the full range of human experience. And you find out all kinds of interesting things, like about how when he finally had huge success, he walked into a therapist’s office and burst into tears, because he was hurting so much at that time of his life. It’s a great read and a nice escape for a while–it’s thick! Takes time to read it. Toward the end, I kept putting off finishing it, because I didn’t want it to be over.

If you develop full Bruce mania, which you will when you read this, you gotta watch the documentary, “The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town.” At one point in the film he says, “More than rich, more than famous, more than happy–” (he gives a short, tight laugh) “–I wanted to be great.” Fuck yeah, you did, Bruce!

Here’s a great song from the album (“Darkness on the Edge of Town”). Play it full blast while lying in a hot bath, and just think about life, man.

Everyone is reading the wrong JONATHAN FRANZEN

Jonathan Franzen, The Discomfort Zone review

At a crowded signing of Franzen’s most recent novel, “Freedom,” a woman standing in line behind me said, “Jonathan Franzen is like Justin Beiber to adult intellectuals.” He is popular. But I had to force myself to finish “The Corrections.” And I read a long excerpt of “Freedom,” in the New Yorker, and that was enough for me. You know how there’s the kind of therapist that listens to everything you say and mostly just nods, providing witness? That, to me, is what Franzen’s fiction is like. And you know how there’s the other kind of therapist that tells you their opinions, explains complex things to you, and makes you feel understood? That, to me, is what his nonfiction is like. I’ve read both his collection of essays and his memoir (pictured above) twice and am itching to read them again. The next time you feel nauseated from spending too many hours clicking through b.s. like TMZ pics of celebs’ cellulite at the beach, read “How to Be Alone” and “The Discomfort Zone” to feel grounded and mentally engaged again. These snippets are too short to do him justice, but they’ll give you an idea:

“Imagine that human existence is defined by an Ache: the Ache of our not being, each of us, the center of the universe; of our desires forever outnumbering our means of satisfying them”

“the prospect of nuclear annihilation (my longtime pet apocalypse)”

“my wife’s sort of intelligence still seemed to me the best sort, her moral and aesthetic judgments still seemed to me the only ones that counted”

“Depression, when it’s clinical, is not a metaphor. It runs in families, and it’s known to respond to medication and to counseling. However truly you believe there’s a sickness to existence that can never be cured, if you’re depressed you will sooner or later surrender and say: I just don’t want to feel so bad anymore”

“Although ‘The Family Circus’ was resolutely unfunny, its panels clearly were based on some actual family’s humid, baby-filled home life”

“Adolescence is best enjoyed without self-consciousness, but self-consciousness, unfortunately, is its leading symptom”

“After the excitements of (birding in) South Texas, I was hollow and restless, like an addict in withdrawal. It was a chore to make myself comprehensible to friends”

“And there, floating nonchalantly, as if it were the most natural thing in the world—which is, after all, the way of magical creatures in enchanted places—was my black-bellied whistling-duck”