This book came to me courtesy of friend and fellow Springsteen fan, Bill Shaw. It’s the memoir of journalist and broadcaster Manzoor whose family originated in Pakistan before moving to Luton. It documents his family life and his struggles to create an identity in Britain that was neither Pakistani nor British/English, and he describes what it was like being a Muslim in post 2001 and 2005 Britain.
At its heart is a musical obsession, a la Nick Hornby. While a disaffected, outsider schoolboy, Manzoor is introduced to Springsteen’s music by a Hindu pal who would become his closest friend. According to his testimony he says Springsteen, the man and his music, changed his life forever. It’s a bit hackneyed I guess, but Springsteen lyrics are used to trace the story of his life, the frustrations of childhood, the conflict with his father and the poignant breakthrough in understanding following his father’s death.
Manzoor is not the most lyrical writer, and the connections are often forced, but this is a tender, affectionate book. He has a wry innocence about him and I envied the extraordinary stories he relates of his various encounters with the great man.
Fellow Bruce aficionados will enjoy this account and the diehards will undoubtedly see themselves in his enthusiasm. And this is the key thing about the book for me. His excitement and enthusiasm, as a British Muslim, is part my story as well. And to that extent barriers can be weakened.
To those who have no interest in Bruce, it might just help you understand the rest of us and come to the light.