Saturday, July 28, 2012
Could there be anything more thrilling (for a reader-rocker) than reading the beautifully researched, impeccably written David Remnick profile of Bruce Springsteen in the July 30 issue of The New Yorker? The story is called "We Are Alive," and most everyone read it before I did, because my issue didn't arrive until late yesterday afternoon. I'd read pieces online. I'd read the raves. But yesterday, after a very long day of corporate work and minor agitations, I found a breeze and read the profile through. I didn't have to fall in love again with Bruce Springsteen; I've been in love since I was a kid. But I loved, loved, loved every word of this story. I would like to frame it.
(For those who haven't seen my Devon Horse Show photos and video of Jessica Springsteen, who is as sensational in her way as Bruce is, I share them here.)
Perhaps my favorite part of Remnick's article was discovering the way that Springsteen reads, how he thinks about books. You don't get to be sixty-two and still magnetic, necessary, pulsingly, yes, alive if you don't know something, and if you don't commit yourself to endless learning. Reading is one of the many ways Springsteen stays so connected to us, and so relevant. From The New Yorker:
Lately, he has been consumed with Russian fiction. "It's compensatory—what you missed the first time around," he said. "I'm sixty-some, and I think, There are a lot of these Russian guys! What's all the fuss about? So I was just curious. That was an incredible book: 'The Brothers Karamazov.' Then I read 'The Gambler.' The social play in the first half was less interesting to me, but the second half, about obsession, was fun. That could speak to me. I was a big John Cheever fan, and so when I got into Chekhov I could see where Cheever was coming from. And I was a big Philip Roth fan, so I got into Saul Bellow, 'Augie March.' These are all new connections for me. It'd be like finding out now that the Stones covered Chuck Berry."Next week, I'll begin to write my paper for Glory Days: The Bruce Springsteen Symposium, which is being held in mid-September at Monmouth University, and where I'll be joining April Lindner, Ann Michael, Jane Satterfield, and Ned Balbo on a panel called "Sitting Round Here Trying to Write This Book: Bruce Springsteen and Literary Inspiration." I don't know if I've ever been so intimidated, or (at the same time) excited. I don't know what I have in me, if I can write smart and well enough.
But this morning I take my energy, my inspiration, from the friends and good souls who have written over the past few days to tell me about their experience with Small Damages. We writers write a long time, and sometimes our work resonates, and when it does, we are so grateful. When others reach out to us, we don't know what to say. We hope that thank you is enough. And so, this morning, thank you, Jennifer Brown. Thank you, Alyson Hagy and Robb Forman Dew. Thank you, Tamara Smith. Thank you, Elizabeth Ator and Katherine Wilson. Thank you, Jessica Ferro. Thank you, Hilary Hanes. And thank you, Miss Rosella Eleanor LaFevre, who interviewed me a few years ago about Dangerous Neighbors, and who has stayed in touch ever since. I don't even know how to say thank you for her blog magazine thoughts on Small Damages today. I can only suggest that if you read it through, you'll know something important about her heart.
To being inspired. To writing forward. To keeping on with keeping on, with the hope of better work. Always.