Review: BORN TO RUN by Bruce Springsteen (Simon & Schuster)

springsteenb-borntorunAn interesting, if not-particularly-revelatory memoir from the Boss

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.

Like many people, I was very eager to get my hands on Born to Run when it came out. I have been listening to Springsteen’s music my whole life, really — Born in the USA was a regular on our family stereo, and was the first album I ever loved. (I used to stage ‘concerts’ of it, using my G.I. Joe figures as stand-ins for the band…) Due to work and other reasons, it took me some time to get around to reading Born to Run, but I eventually got the audiobook. I found it quite interesting… if slightly underwhelming. Continue reading

Interview with JAMES HENEAGE

Let’s start with an introduction: Who is James Heneage?

I am a fifty-nine year-old writer who’s spent his life involved in the worlds of books and history. In 1987, I set up Ottakar’s, which I built into a 150-bookshop chain before selling it to Waterstones in 2006. I’ve been a Booker Prize judge and Chaired the Costa Book Awards. I was Chair of the Cheltenham Literature Festival before founding my own festival devoted entirely to history: ‘The Chalke Valley History Festival’, which now attracts some 40,000 visitors a year. I’ve been a writer since 2010 and have written four works of fiction, all set in the 15th Century at the end of the Byzantine Empire, much of which are set in the Peloponnese. So I’ve built a house there where I now live for half of the year. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Sex with the Clothes On” by Brian Staveley

StaveleyB-AuthorPicSometimes, sex feels like cheating. For a writer, I mean, a writer writing about sex.

There are some subjects that one has to really work at to snare a reader. Start a novel with the economic system of your invented city, for instance, or the heraldry of your protagonist, and you’ll lose the reader by the bottom of the first page. Almost no one, on the other hand, closes a book on a description of naked bodies doing what naked bodies do best. Even people who are offended by graphic depictions of sex, even people who will go on to write the author a very sternly worded letter after reading said descriptions — they still tend to read them. A fascination with sex is built into us at a limbic level. Continue reading

Interview with SAM PETERS

PetersS-FromDarkestSkiesUKLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Sam Peters?

Sam Peters is a writer and a… something else that is kind of hard to pin down exactly but right now is somewhere on the boundaries of a mathematician or a physicist (except not the sort who actually pushes the boundaries of anything new) and an engineer (except not the sort who actually makes anything). The sort of technology middleman who might have ended up on the Golgafrincham second ship if real physicists and real engineers ever actually got together. Right now Sam is something of an expert on Fast Fourier Transforms, which should have everyone zoning out right about now so unless you want to discuss the Cooley-Tukey algorithm and optimization of the Split Radix method let’s talk about something else, quick!

Your debut novel, From Darkest Skies, will be published by Gollancz in April. It looks rather fabulous: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

I’d call it a Science Fiction thriller wrapped around a love story. It’s partly Keon’s search for the truth about what happened to his missing wife Alysha and partly about him coming to terms with her loss and the consequences of where his grief has taken him – the recreation of Alysha as a simulacrum wrapped around an Artificial Intelligence. Keon and Alysha were basically spooks so the truth he’s looking for turns out to be a lot more complicated than he first thinks. A lot more complicated and a lot more dangerous. Continue reading

Quick Review: GARRO — WEAPON OF FATE by James Swallow (Black Library)

swallowj-hh-garroThe formation of the Knights Errant, and the start of a new religion…?

From out of the shadows of the Silent War, a hero emerges. Clad all in grey, an errant warrior of the Legiones Astartes kneels before the Regent of Terra, and accepts a solemn new duty – Battle-Captain Garro, once commander of the Eisenstein, now Agentia Primus of Malcador the Sigillite. From the desolation of Isstvan to the halls of the Imperial Palace itself, he stands as a paragon of loyalty and protector of the innocent, ever ready to strike back at the traitorous allies of the Warmaster. But Garro is walking a path of his own, one that may lead him to question his own place in the Imperium… and what if he, too, should falter?

This book collects a number of James Swallow’s Nathaniel Garro stories. (Swallow confirms that there will be more, in his Afterword.) Those stories that were originally released as audio dramas are presented in expanded prose versions, with additional scenes and woven into a chronological, continuous narrative. The book ends with the momentous Vow of Faith, originally published as a limited edition novella. For fans of the Horus Heresy series, this is a must read. Continue reading

An Interview with LILA BOWEN

dawnsonds-authorpicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Lila Bowen?

Lila is the pseudonym (and alter ego) of Delilah S. Dawson. I’ll answer to Delilah or Lila in public, since they’re pretty much the same word. As Delilah, I’m the author of the Blud series, the Hit series, Servants of the Storm, Star Wars: The Perfect Weapon and Scorched, and a variety of short stories and comics, including the upcoming Ladycastle from Boom! Studios. The Shadow series, which begins with Wake of Vultures, is Lila’s first publishing venture. You can find both of us online and chat with us on Twitter. If you’re wanting to know unbookish things, I live in the north Georgia mountains with my family and really love gluten free cake.

Your next novel, Conspiracy of Ravens, was recently published by Orbit. It looks rather interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? And what should fans of Wake of Vultures expect from this sequel?

Thanks! I would definitely send any new readers to Wake of Vultures, which recently came out in paperback, as it introduces the character of Nettie Lonesome and the Weird West world she inhabits. I think of this series as Buffy the Vampire Slayer-meets-Lonesome Dove, although Conspiracy goes a little more Hell on Wheels/Deadwood. Fans of Wake can expect to see the Shadow killing what needs to die and facing her past and future with new clarity as she hunts an alchemist running a diabolical railroad camp using enslaved monsters. Continue reading

Upcoming: AGE OF MYTH by Michael J. Sullivan (Del Rey)

SullivanMJ-LoFE1-AgeOfMythUSI thoroughly enjoyed Michael J. Sullivan‘s Riyria Chronicles novels. I’ve fallen a bit behind on his latest work, unfortunately. Nevertheless, I’m really looking forward to Age of Myth, which is the first in a new five-book fantasy series. Here’s the synopsis:

Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between humans and those they thought were gods changes forever.

Now only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer; Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom; and Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over. The time of rebellion has begun.

Age of Myth is due out on June 28th in the US, published by Del Rey. I’m not sure about any plans for UK publication.

Also on CR: Reviews of Theft of SwordsRise of Empire and Heir of Novron; Interview with Michael J. Sullivan (2011); Guest Posts on “On Gritty vs. Heroic Fantasy” and “History & Riyria”