2012 is turning out to be a great year for Springsteen books. I recently reviewed Marc Dolan’s excellent The Promise of Rock ‘n’ Roll; November will see the release of the authorized biography “Bruce” by Peter Ames; and in between those two we now have “Bruce Springsteen FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the Boss” by John D. Luersson.
What separates “Bruce Springsteen FAQ” from most other Bruce biographies is the characteristic format of the FAQ series, which to date also includes a “Neil Young FAQ”, “U2 FAQ”, “The Doors FAQ”, and several others (not all written by Luersson). It’s a cross between a biography and an encyclopedia, and it can be read either from start to finish, as a regular biography, or as a handbook for quick look-ups. But rather than being alphabetical, it follows a chronological structure interspersed with thematic sections, such as “Artists Springsteen opened for”, “Girlfriends and wives”, and “Benefits, charities and causes”.
The sections are short, which makes it bliss to those who only read during short bus or train commutes. A fine index, contents section, and clear typography make it relatively easy to find the information you need.
And information is what this book excels in. The purpose of the book seems to be to simply stuff as much information into one book as possible. While this is a great objective, it does make the subtitle somewhat misleading. Rather than “all that’s left to know about the Boss”, it should perhaps have been “all that’s known about the Boss and then some”. The thing is, long-time Bruce geeks will only find a few things they didn’t already read before, but in return, they’ll get a book where all they know is gathered in one handy place.
People who are new to Bruce or just haven’t studied him much, on the other hand, will find this to be a treasure. In fact, it may be the one Bruce book you should choose if you are a serious fan and want to know the facts, but don’t have a desire to read several books. It will also make you well dressed for passing Greasy Lake’s popular Bruce quizzes, which is not a thing to be sneezed at!
My only complaint about the book is that it does contain a few errors here and there; that, and the lack of source notes. The errors are, as far as this reader can judge, few and far between and nothing that should deter you. In fact, with the amount of facts this book contains, you would almost expect more errors than you see. The lack of source notes is not a major flaw either, but once in a while, when you come upon a new piece of information, it would have been nice to know where it comes from so that you could do a little more research on your own.
Altogether, “Bruce Springsteen FAQ” is a worthy ingredient in the trinity of important 2012 Springsteen books mentioned in the beginning. Read it from start to finish or just use it as a reference book. Whatever you choose, it’s well worth the space in your bookshelf.
The best part is that it can now be yours for free. Greasy Lake has a brand new, unread copy available for one lucky winner. And unlike our usual practice, you don’t have to answer geeky trivia questions to win. All you have to do is send us a review or comment of more than 50 words about a Bruce album of your own choice. We will make a random draw among everybody who submits an entry, so it doesn’t even have to be well-written or insightful. We do reserve the right to publish all reviews on Greasy Lake.