Backlist Briefs – Mini Reviews for BORN TO RUN and THE PRINCESS DIARIST

Backlist Briefs – Mini Reviews for BORN TO RUN and THE PRINCESS DIARISTBorn to Run by Bruce Springsteen
four-half-stars
on September 27th 2016
Genres: Autobiography, Nonfiction
Pages: 528
Source: Purchased
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GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

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

Review:

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

 

Backlist Briefs – Mini Reviews for BORN TO RUN and THE PRINCESS DIARISTThe Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
three-half-stars
Published by Blue Rider Press on October 18th 2016
Genres: Nonfiction, Autobiography
Pages: 257
Source: Purchased
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GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

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.

Review:

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

four-half-stars

About Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen is an American songwriter, singer and guitarist. He has frequently recorded and toured with the E Street Band. Springsteen is most widely known for his brand of heartland rock infused with pop hooks, poetic lyrics, and Americana sentiments centered around his native New Jersey. His eloquence in expressing ordinary, everyday problems has earned him numerous awards, including twenty Grammy Awards and an Academy Award, along with an international fan base. His most famous albums, Born to Run and Born in the U.S.A., epitomize his penchant for finding grandeur in the struggles of daily life. He has sold over 64 million albums in the U.S. alone.

About Carrie Fisher

Carrie Frances Fisher (1956 – 2016) was an American actress, screenwriter and novelist, most famous for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy.

Book Review: Scrappy Little Nobody

Book Review:  Scrappy Little NobodyScrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
three-stars
Published by Touchstone Books on January 1st 1970
Genres: Nonfiction, Autobiography
Pages: 275
Source: Purchased
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MY REVIEW:

I went into Scrappy Little Nobody really hoping to love it because I am a big fan of Anna Kendrick’s.  I think she’s a great actress and I also love her wry sense of humor in interviews and on social media.  Overall, I have to say I liked it well enough, but didn’t love it.  The book is structured as a collection of humorous autobiographical essays on a variety of random topics, ranging from her childhood days to her entry into show business, her early attempts at romantic relationships, attending award shows, and even a random essay about themed parties she would love to throw.  It was all very random, quirky, and still somehow pretty insightful and therefore made for a fun read overall.

 

LIKES

As I mentioned, I love Anna’s sense of humor so that was probably the biggest plus for me as I was reading.  She is effortlessly humorous and each essay is filled with colorful anecdotes to show just how much of a “scrappy little nobody” she really is.

I especially enjoyed the stories from early on in her career, seeing how she got her start on Broadway while still in middle school, and then what it was like for her to move from the East Coast out to L.A. and into her first very modest apartment.

And of course, any mention of her films that I’m familiar with like Up in the Air, Into the Woods, and especially Pitch Perfect were highlights.

I also liked that even though the series of essays is seemingly quite random, they still move forward in a somewhat chronological manner – with a few detours – and show Anna figuring out how to live and function as a young, independent, professional woman even if she does she feel like a clueless kid.

 

DISLIKES/ISSUES

My biggest issue with Scrappy Little Nobody was that I wanted a lot more behind-the-scenes looks at Anna’s most well known films, in particular, Pitch Perfect.  While there were a few nuggets here and there, her more recent works seem to be largely ignored so that was a bummer for me.

I also had a few issues where I had difficulty gauging Anna’s tone. Is she being funny here since most of this is meant to be humorous, or is she trying to be more serious?  I think my issue was because I was reading the print version of the book and for that reason I wish I had done the audio version instead. I think hearing Anna tell her stories and share her insights would have helped a lot because there would have been no guesswork as far as what’s meant to be funny and what’s meant to be taken more seriously.

One final issue I had was that sometimes it felt like Anna was trying a little too hard to prove that she’s just like us regular folks even though she’s a famous movie star.  Most of the time I thought the stories about her being awkward and not knowing what to do were cute and relatable, but after a few of them, I got to the point where I was like “Okay, I get it. You’re awkward. Let’s move on to a new topic.”  It’s probably not something that would bother too many people, but I tend to get irritated if I feel like someone’s hammering home a point too hard.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Even though I had a few issues with Scrappy Little Nobody, I still think it’s a solid and entertaining read overall.  I think Anna Kendrick fans will certainly enjoy getting a little more insight into her personality.  I definitely recommend trying to get the audio version if possible though. I think hearing Anna’s words will give you the most optimal reading experience.

 

RATING:  3 STARS

 

 

 

 

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS

A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch PerfectUp in the AirTwilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious). 

 

three-stars

About Anna Kendrick

Anna Kendrick is an American actress and singer, born and raised in Portland, Maine. She is widely known for her roles in The Twilight Saga, Up in the Air, and Pitch Perfect. Throughout her acting career, Kendrick has received various awards and nominations.