“Only thing that I got’s been bothering me my whole life. Well, that, and a gun,” writes Dennis Lehane in his story, “State Trooper.”
Bruce Springsteen fans will recognize the first line as coming from the brooding “Nebraska” song, “State Trooper.” But the second was added by Lehane, in a story that appears in “Trouble in the Heartland,” a new anthology of crime fiction inspired by Springsteen songs.
Yes, “Born to Run,” “Rosalita,” “Mansion on the Hill,” “Wreck on the Highway” and even “Queen of the Supermarket” are now short stories, using the songs as launching points, and occasionally harking back to them with a line or a phrase. “Bruce, like the best pulp fiction, champions losers and loners on lost highways, those seeking last shots at redemption. The very heart of hardboiled, every cynic a wounded romantic,” writes editor Joe Clifford in the anthology’s introduction.
Clifford received Springsteen’s approval for the project, and is giving a portion of the proceeds to the Springsteen-supported veterans charity, the Bob Woodruff Foundation.
To celebrate the release of the book, the Saint nightclub in Asbury Park will host an event, “Noir at the Bar,” at 7 p.m. tonight, at which writers featured in the book (as well as some crime writers who aren’t) will read from their work, with a set by singer-songwriter James Dalton to follow. The writers are: Erik Arneson, Jamez Chang, Jen Conley, Thomas Pluck, C.D. Regan, Joe Samuel Starnes, Kieran Shea, Wallace Stroby, Dennis Tafoya and Anthony Venutolo, and Mark Krajnak will host. Tickets are $5, and toys will be collected for the Toys for Tots program; visit thesaintnj.com.