Backlist Briefs – Mini Reviews for BORN TO RUN and THE PRINCESS DIARIST
on September 27th 2016
Genres: Autobiography, Nonfiction
In 2009, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Super Bowl’s halftime show. The experience was so exhilarating that Bruce decided to write about it. That’s how this extraordinary autobiography began.
Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humor, and originality found in his songs.
He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger, and darkness that fueled his imagination, leading up to the moment he refers to as “The Big Bang”: seeing Elvis Presley’s debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candor, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work and shows us why the song “Born to Run” reveals more than we previously realized.
Born to Run will be revelatory for anyone who has ever enjoyed Bruce Springsteen, but this book is much more than a legendary rock star’s memoir. This is a book for workers and dreamers, parents and children, lovers and loners, artists, freaks, or anyone who has ever wanted to be baptized in the holy river of rock and roll.
Rarely has a performer told his own story with such force and sweep. Like many of his songs (“Thunder Road,” “Badlands,” “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” “The River,” “Born in the U.S.A.,” “The Rising,” and “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” to name just a few), Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography is written with the lyricism of a singular songwriter and the wisdom of a man who has thought deeply about his experiences
I don’t typically read a lot of nonfiction, and it’s even rarer for me to delve into the realm of celebrity memoirs. But in the case of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, I just couldn’t resist. I’ve been a pretty diehard fan of Springsteen ever since I first heard and was captivated by the lyrics from “Born to Run” and “Thunder Road.” I’ll admit that I was a little intimidated by the idea of a 538 page autobiography, but it’s The Boss so ultimately I couldn’t resist picking up a copy.
I ended up settling on the audio version and I highly recommend it. There’s just something magical about listening to Springsteen talk about his life in his own words. I loved listening to him talk about his childhood and his humble beginnings, as well as when he got further along in his career and became famous. His passion for his craft, his sense of perfectionism when it came to putting together each album, and his determination to retain as much control over his career as possible were fascinating to read about and really gave a lot of insight into the man behind the music.
My favorite parts of the book were where he got more personal. Not only does Springsteen reflect a lot on the various demons that he has fought throughout his life, but there are some very moving chapters where he talks about his wife, his children, his relationship with his father, and especially the ones where he recalls his wonderful friendship with Clarence Clemons, legendary saxophone player for Bruce’s E Street Band.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Born to Run for any fan who wants to hear about Springsteen’s life and career in his own words. It’s a moving and intimate portrait of both Springsteen the man and Springsteen the artist. 4.5 STARS
The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
Published by Blue Rider Press on October 18th 2016
Genres: Nonfiction, Autobiography
The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie.
When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager.
With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.
I’ve had Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diarist sitting on my bookshelf for over a year now. I had just purchased my copy a few weeks before she tragically passed away in December 2016, and having been a fan of hers for most of my life, I was just too heartbroken to pick it up and read it. Even this week when I finally did open the book, just seeing those old pics of her brought tears to my eyes. Carrie Fisher had a bigger than life personality that always made me chuckle when I watched her in interviews and that personality really comes shining through in The Princess Diarist.
For me, the high point of The Princess Diarist was, interestingly enough, not the actual diary entries themselves, which are included in the center of the book. The diary entries are entertaining enough and shed a lot of light on how a 19-year old Carrie felt about a variety of topics – her newfound fame, her attraction to men who weren’t good choices, her infatuation with Harrison Ford, etc. But what I enjoyed most about this book, however, were Carrie’s own reflections as she’s looking back at her 19 year old self nearly 40 years later. With her trademark wit, she gives some thoughtful yet hilarious commentary about the affair with Harrison, what it was like to be part of the Star Wars phenomenon, and what it’s like to be an aging actress in Hollywood. She also talks a lot in the later pages about going to cons and meeting fans, signing autographs, and how wild it is to know how important she and Star Wars are to so many people.
It’s a quick and fun read, although not quite what I had hoped for when it came to the diary entries themselves. I guess, as a Star Wars junkie, I was hoping for behind-the-scenes Star Wars moments beyond just the affair with Harrison. In that sense, I felt a little let down by the book but it’s still a solid read, especially for any fan of Carrie Fisher. 3.5 STARS
Thanks for sharing! I do like reading certain celebrity memoirs – though some are definitely better than others. I’m glad you enjoyed these!
Thanks! I’m hit and miss when it comes to memoirs but I had good luck with both of these. And yay for getting more backlist books read!
I agree about the Princess Diarist. I didn’t love the actual diary entries as much as I thought. I am not a huge Springsteen fan but I do love a celebrity memoir on audio so I might have to pick it up. Greta reviews!
Yes, I was expecting so much more from the diary entries. I’m glad she framed them with her own reflections on them; otherwise I would have been very disappointed in the book as a whole.
Great reviews! I’m a Jersey girl, yet I have never been a big fan of Bruce Springsteen. However, it is pretty cool to hear celebrities tell their stories in their own voice!
I agree. And he’s just a natural born storyteller so it was very entertaining to listen to him.
Wow, these both sound really good. I never really knew a lot about either of them growing up. It would be interesting to learn more about them. Great reviews.
Thank you for a thorough, entertaining lowdown on these celebrity autobiographies – a great help when deciding whether to track them down:)
I bet the Springsteen book is really interesting, I’m tempted to give that a shot. I think reading Carrie’s memoir would be fascinating too.
Springsteen’s book was definitely good. I am glad I did the audiobook too in the sense that I think I would have found some of the content arrogant and condescending if I had just read the words on the page instead of hearing him deliver them as he meant them to be interpreted. He’s a great storyteller though.
Loved your review of The Princess Diarist 🙂
Wow, Springsteen narrates his memoir? What a treat it is to listen to someone like him narrate his book! And Carrie <3 always!
I really liked that he narrated his own memoir. He’s just such a natural storyteller. I also think there were a few places that could have come off as arrogant or condescending if I had just been reading the words on the page instead of hearing the way he meant for them to be delivered.