Jim is observing Christmas. One of his favorite gifts that he received this year is June Skinner Sawyers's new coffee table book, Bruce Springsteen: Halfway to Heaven & Just a Mile Out of Hell. Besides an exceptionally rich array of photographs spanning Springsteen's entire career (from 22 different collections -- clearing them must have been an immense task), the book functions as a brief, elegant, and yet comprehensive biography of Springsteen from his earliest days through his Working on a Dream tour. Of particular note are the many sidebars, which contextualize Springsteen's career in terms of well-known literal and figurative landmarks as well as literary figures like Stephen Crane (another famous Asbury Park denizen) and John Steinbeck. Sawyers, author of Tougher than the Rest (2006), a collection of mini-essays on Springsteen songs, and Racing in the Street (2004), an anthology of writings on Springsteen, is a superb tour guide. Halfway to Heaven is a terrific keepsake the for the dedicated fan as well as a fine introduction for anyone wondering what the fuss is all about. Published by Metro Books under a licensing agreement with Barnes & Noble, you're more apt to get your hands on it there than anywhere else.
In this time of rest, reflection, and savored blessings, Jim would like to thank the many friends -- some personally known to him, some not -- from around the world who took the time to visit American History Now in 2009. This blog represents an ongoing experiment in a time of tremendous upheaval for all with a stake in the fate of the written word and its intensifying orientation toward, and evolution within, the World Wide Web. Thanks to all of you who stopped in to read about Felix, Maria, and other subjects, and thanks to the engineers at Google who made blogging an idiot-proof proposition. Whatever the future may hold for a corporation that has engendered anxieties from citizen and competitor alike, it only seems fair to express thanks to a company which has created immense new possibilities and empowered individuals for self-expression and communication.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night (and weekend).