Bowie’s Bookshelf: The Hundred Books That Changed David Bowie’s Life

John O’Connell. . Gallery, $18 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-982133-37-5
Former Time Out editor O’Connell does an outstanding job of analyzing a disparate list, initially published for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s 2013 David Bowie Is exhibit, of the 100 books which the late singer cited as his greatest influences. Bowie is revealed here as a voracious reader, with a taste for everything from Flaubert to Stephen King. O’Connell offers summations and analysis of both the titles at hand and how they may have impacted Bowie. In some cases (John Cage’s Silence: Lectures and Writing, Orwell’s 1984) the connection is rather obvious, but others, such as Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys and lesser-known titles including Rupert Thomson’s “haunting” novel The Insult, which O’Connell finds evocative of Bowie’s “impatience with traditional narrative forms,” are less predictable. O’Connell makes a solid case for how each book figures into the star’s career, sprinkling Bowie trivia throughout along with corresponding Bowie songs (“Can You Hear Me,” for example, is recommended while reading The Great Gatsby) and suggested additional works by the highlighted author. O’Connell avoids the trap of getting too far into the weeds of lit-crit or pop-star fandom, carving out an artful and wildly enthralling path for Bowie fans in particular and book lovers in general. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 09/11/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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