I Turn Out Not To Be As Stupid As I Think I Am

Posted: October 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

Yes, been sick. Still sick. Behind on everything. But that’s not today’s topic.

Inspired by watching the HBO documentary The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town, I went back to a bunch of my reference material for a Bruce project I’ve had rattling around in my head. (Okay, actually I have two. One is a musical screenplay based directly on The Boss’ earlier works, the second is my “what if Bruce Springsteen wrote Justice League of America?” novel. But I digress.) Eager to dip myself in some more scholarly interpretations of his work, I pulled out a book I had picked up some years ago, Bruce Springsteen’s America: The People Listening, A Poet Singing. Written by celebrated Harvard professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Robert Coles, it looked chock full of Springsteeny goodness.

Now, as many of you know, I’m not a poetry guy. I want to get it, but I don’t really, except on a fairly shallow basis. I am still waiting for Austen to school me in its ways. Similarly, I’m not particularly pedantic or scholarly. I can grok literary theory just fine, but I don’t have the focus of mind to do well with “scholarly” writing. Especially when I’m sick and not on my brain meds. So, sitting down with Robert Coles’ book, I wasn’t entirely surprised when I found the introduction to be incredibly boring and have more to do with the author’s name-dropping relationship with William Carlos Williams. But hey, introductions are like that, right? Being me, I skipped the rest of it and dived into chapter one.

It got no better.

“Damn,” I thought. “I am not on the right page here. Perhaps literally.”

I skipped around some more.

It got more and more densely obscure, with lots of rambling direct interview material, the kind of thing that kills folklore books for me. I began to  despair. Even at forty, apparently scholarly literary analysis was beyond me, even when it was a subject I was really eager to delve into. Damn my brain! Was I lost unless they made a movie out of it? I left the book in the bathroom, hoping being a captive audience would help. (It didn’t.)

So tonight, still hungry for a little scholarship on top of my Americana rock music, I started to peruse amazon.com for other books on The Boss. A few looked promising, and didn’t have titles with too many colons in them. Then on page < Previous 1 2 3 4 5 Next >, I found the paperback of Mr. Coles’ book.

And you know what it was rated? One star.

It had reviews with titles like “An author babbling…” and “possibly the lamest book ever written about Bruce” and “endless drivel from someone who doesn’t know Bruce” and “Born to Run — far away from this book!”and “1 Star Only Because I Couldn’t Give 0.” (All real titles, cut and pasted!)

It wasn’t just me.

I’m so used to my finding this sort of thing unreadable that I simply assumed it was me. But no! I was in the clear! Everyone hated it!

It was like a giant weight was lifted off of my self-esteem. I may not be as uncivilized or anti-intellectual as I often cast myself. Yay for me!

I think I’m going to celebrate by going and watching this week’s episode of Desperate Housewives.

Doug

Tomorrow: I’m probably going to whine a lot about not getting to go in to the store today. Stupid sick.

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