9781852277840 / 185227784X

Strange Fascination: David Bowie - The Definitive Biography


Publisher:Virgin Books



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About the book:

As pop culture spirals into a banal, self-replicating, self-referencing morass, we seem increasingly to look back to the days when it meant something--when a new LP (ask your parents) might not only mean 30-odd minutes of music, but a whole new way of looking at the world and at yourself. Those were the days of David Bowie, whose near five-decade career is now the subject of David Buckley's new "definitive story".

Strange Fascination started life as a PhD, but it happily lacks the professionalised jargon that might bring with it. Where its critical credentials show is in Buckley's careful attempt to separate out the media "fictive" version of David Bowie--a version which, as he rightly claims, has been wilfully conflated with what Bowie's "really like" by past biographers. Mind you, that's hardly the biographers' fault: Bowie was, and remains, one of the most adept of self-inventors, whose legacy of fully formed personae reveals Madonna's much-vaunted image changes for what they are--"looks", superficial fashion tweakings that never aspired to the wholesale self-fashioning Bowie went in for. (Buckley is strangely unfascinated by recent rumours that Bowie's latest remodelling is more than skin-deep).

Buckley's passion for the man is undeniable, and perhaps misleads him on occasion. While there's no doubting Bowie's past popularity and influence, Buckley might not find many takers for his pronouncements that "Bowie is once again one of the most revered artists in contemporary music" and "nothing short of the first anti-hero of the 21st century". In fact, what comes across most strongly from Buckley's own account is the sheer length of Bowie's career, which means that his most marked influence was on a generation of artists who are themselves now approaching middle-age.

Nicely illustrated, and with some useful "documents" to encourage further study, Buckley's book won't please all Bowie fans, but it's an intelligent and thorough addition to a field that will grow and grow; Serious Bowie Studies. Watch this site. --Alan Stewart

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