DAVID BOWIE by Paul Trynka


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Everything you always wanted to know about the Thin White Duke. Everything.

Musically speaking, David Bowie never quite reached the critical or popular heights of fellow UK rockers the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who and Led Zeppelin—granted, that was due in part to poor timing, as he came onto the scene at the tail end of the British Invasion. Yet despite his inconsistent catalog, he's managed to remain in the public consciousness for more than 40 years, which explains why he's proven to be a fascinating subject for long biographies. In 2009, Marc Spitz delivered the doorstopper Bowie: A Biography, and Nicholas Pegg is set to release The Complete David Bowie in late 2011. So does Ziggy Stardust merit all this coverage? Former Mojo editor Trynka offers an emphatic yes. The author gave Bowie's contemporary Iggy Pop the same treatment with Iggy Pop: Open Up and Bleed (2008), an insanely in-depth, honest and readable biography. Here, Trynka once again covers it all—the music, the movies, the marriages, the shifting personae, the drugs, the drugs and the drugs—in a breezy, chatty style that often reads as a novel. The author remains objective about Bowie's music, most notably during his lengthy discussion about how much of a hand his sidemen played in the development and recording of his records, and the fact that Trynka isn't sycophantic about David's undeniably hit-and-miss discography helps legitimize the project. But despite its numerous positive attributes, the book is exhaustive to a fault. By the time most readers are three-quarters of the way through, they'll probably want to listen to "Space Oddity" and "Heroes," then call it a day.

Bowie nerds will love it, and music nerds will admire it; regular nerds and most others will think it's about 150 pages too long.


Pub Date: July 18th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-316-03225-4
Page count: 544pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2011


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