A frank, funny, and inventive blend of biography, music criticism, and memoir told in thirteen tracks.
As he enters his sixties, Bruce Springsteen remains a paragon of all that is cool in the world of rock. He's a genuine voice of the people, the bastard child of Woody Guthrie and James Brown, and an elder statesman who has inspired generations of bands. He's won twenty Grammy Awards, an Oscar, two Golden Globes, and is a member of two Halls of Fame.
There are dozens of books about Springsteen. What's left to say? Nothing objective, perhaps. But when it comes to music, objectivity is highly overrated. Robert Wiersema has been a Springsteen fan since he was a teenager, following tours to see multiple shows in a row, watching set lists develop in real time via the Internet, ordering bootlegs from shady vendors in Italy. His attachment is deeper than fandom, though: he's grown up with Springsteen's songs as the soundtrack to his life, beginning with his youth in rural British Columbia and continuing on through dreams of escape, falling in love, and becoming a father.
Walk Like a Man is the liner notes for a mix tape, a blend of biography, music criticism, and memoir. Like the best mix tapes, it balances joy and sorrow, laughter seasoning the dark-night-of-the-soul questions that haunt us all. Wiersema's book is the story of a man becoming a man (despite getting a little lost along the way), and of Springsteen's songs and life that have accompanied him on his journey.
In his darkest mid-life days, author Robert J. Wiersema rediscovered Bruce Springsteen, and found rapture. —Adrian Mack, The Tyee
Walk Like a Man is a touching and intimate look into one man's life, it also brings up bigger questions of fandom, of the public facade of celebrity, of the difference between art and artist. —Greg Pratt, Exclaim.ca
Walk Like a Man: Coming of Age with the Music of Bruce Springsteen succeeds on multiple levels both as music writing and as a reflective story of how to navigate manhood . . . it is a title that speaks to all of us of the powerlessness of youth and the longing for more that also permeates much of Springsteen's music. The author could not be more removed from the singer's experience (BC is about as far as it gets from New Jersey without crossing an ocean) and yet Wiersema easily shows how Springsteen's music resonated with every aspect of his young adulthood. The trick to the writing is that he not only makes the comparisons between the two of them believable, he makes you realize just how much you might have in common with both men as well. —Bookslut
Walk Like a Man beautifully and accurately describes the way that rock and roll and fandom can touch and change our lives. —Craig Finn
Wiersema . . . riffs with alacrity . . . —Shaun Smith, Toronto Star
This September, Victoria's Robert Wiersema goes public with his own mixtape . . . Walk Like a Man is a book—a combination of memoir and musings on how he's been affected by the music of Bruce Springsteen. In true mixtape style, Wiersema wraps each chapter around a Springsteen song. There are 13, as well as a bonus track. For greater mixtape verisimilitude, the songs are divided into 'side one' and a 'side two.' —Victoria Times Colonist
What Wiersema has really created is his own brilliant disguise. Springsteen's songs didn't teach him how to walk like a man; no more than they did me. Rather they were there, as a soundtrack to his life, as he learned. —Raymond Beauchemin, The National
If writing about music is, in fact, akin to dancing about architecture, Robert J. Wiersema might have a two-step in his future. With Walk Like A Man, the Victoria-based novelist . . . ventures into previously uncharted territory: non-fiction, with a music nerd twist, thanks to the ever-present role that rock's working class hero, Bruce Springsteen, has played in Wiersema's life. Using the venerable icon's lengthy discography, Wiersema has crafted the ultimate memoir mixtape, with enought wit and honesty to convince even the haters to give the Boss a second chance. —Vancouver WestEnder
[Walk Like a Man is] a fun read, and a strong reminder of why Springsteen is as popular as he is. Wiersema is particularly good at charting the highs and lows (he is not so gobsmacked as to not be able to see that there are lows), and putting the various aspects of Springsteen's career into a wider context. —Globe & Mail
Wiersema ought to be commended for grabbing one non-fan's attention and maintaining his interest. The Victoria-based bookseller and bestselling novelist's unique biography/memoir/love letter is a hardcore connoisseur's enthusiastic take on the life and music of Springsteen and, more generally, a warm ode to the singular 'power of music.' —Brett Josef Grubisic, Vancouver Sun
The highest accolade I can give [Walk Like a Man] is that it made me revisit Springsteen. It made me listen to albums I was only vaguely aware of and read the critics' dispatches of the day . . . it is the author's talent that he makes us look at a major international artist anew and through different eyes. —Les Wiseman, Victoria Times Colonist
The book is the story of a man becoming a man (despite getting a little lost along the way), and of the music that accompanied him on his journey. —Toronto Quarterly