Friday, January 13, 2012

Book Review - Springsteen: Point Blank by Chris Sanford



Knowing that this was a limited-access biography written over 10 years ago, my expectations were not high. However, there are certain celebrities that are so fascinating that you'd really have to work hard to make them seem uninteresting - The Beatles, Stan Lee, Michael Jordan, etc. I was hoping Springsteen would fall into this category. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

Sanford's book begins with a catty tale about Bruce dumping a girlfriend after a concert in 1979, and really doesn't rise much above that. He claims he is attempting to be "iconoclastic" and present the "real" story of Springsteen, but the book is filled with anonymous quotes from former bandmates and lovers, with occasional shots at Dave Marsh. It even has the audacity to lift stories straight from Bruce's Live 1975-85 album (did you know that Bruce's parents wanted a lawyer or an author, but had to settle for rock and roll?). The author takes gossip and draws ridiculous interpretations about Bruce and his songs - he repeatedly calls Springsteen "schizophrenic" to the point where I was thinking, "I don't think you know what that word means" (ala Mandy Patinkin). Furthermore, the writing is verbose, clumsy, and often non-sensical. For example, "Whatever his shin-guard flaws, they were more than matched by his academic scrapes."

Sanford is in his element when he is sticking to the cold hard facts. He does a fine job outlining Bruce's rise to fame. I've never been quite sure how people make the leap from local stars to rock stars, but this book immerses itself in the details. Bruce's decline is the 1990s is an interesting read as well, as it proposes Bruce not really "caring" about his music at that time. It isn't quite as ludicrous as Sanford's other theories, and it will be interesting to read about if Bruce ever does his own tell-all book.

Overall, I cannot recommend any use their time on this book. Even the die-hards will be left cold by this. I give Point Blank 1 out of 5 right between the eyes.