BOWIE

A BIOGRAPHY

Only time will tell if this is the definitive Bowie bio, but for now it should satisfy hardcore Ziggy freaks and most casual...

A breezy, well-lit portrait of the ever-enigmatic rocker.

Born David Jones in 1947, David Bowie became one of the most shape-shifting artists in the history of rock ’n’ roll. From psychedelic folkie, to dramatic glamster, to blue-eyed soul crooner, to electronic new waver, to hard-rocking alterna-dude, to elder hipster statesman, Bowie is a restless—some would say contradictory—soul. A charismatic, arresting presence on both the music and social scene, the lanky Brit has always spent considerable amounts of time in the public eye. However, few know what he’s really about. Fortunately for Bowie’s multitudinous minions, veteran pop-culture scribe Spitz delivers the goods, despite his subject’s lack of participation in the making of this filmic book. The author (Nobody Likes You: Inside the Life, Turbulent Times, and Music of Green Day, 2006, etc.) takes great care in his dissection of the details of Bowie’s long, eventful career, from the highs—e.g., the success of his remarkably entertaining alter ego Ziggy Stardust—to the lows, most notably a lengthy coke bender that almost ended it all. Unauthorized biographies are often frustratingly shallow for serious fans of the book’s subject—especially when lacking new material, an original spin or a legitimate sense of enthusiasm—but Spitz’s encyclopedic knowledge and obvious appreciation for Bowie’s work separate this book from countless cookie-cutter rock stories.

Only time will tell if this is the definitive Bowie bio, but for now it should satisfy hardcore Ziggy freaks and most casual fans.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-307-39396-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2009

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

Close Quickview