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Book Review: A straightforward take on Bowie's extraordinary life


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Jakarta | Thu, October 20, 2016 | 08:04 am
Book Review: A straightforward take on Bowie's extraordinary life

At less than 30 pages, the short biography is the perfect way to get acquainted with the artist. (Shutterstock/File)

An interesting thing to observe when an iconic and celebrated figure dies is how the amount of conversations about that person makes those less familiar with their work feel like they’ve missed out. Some choose to stay silent or chime in politely, others add to the conversation without having much of a clue. Something all too apparent when news of the passing of David Robert Jones, better known as David Bowie, broke earlier this year. 

As his music has resonated with so many around the world, losing him became almost a universally shared grief. Pieces were written about him globally, multiple tributes were made, and words of admiration were passed on across social media and in daily conversations. But for those less acquainted with his wide body of work, the question remains: who is David Bowie?

(Read also: David Bowie and his love affair with Indonesia)

David Bowie: A Biography seems to have been written to answer exactly this question. At less than 30 pages, the short biography is the perfect way to get acquainted with the artist and read about his background, his upbringing, and the major life events that in time would impact his musical career.

Starting right at his birthplace in Brixton, London, during World War II, and going on to examine the different situations and acquaintances he would meet and collaborate with along the way, the book is a straightforward take on a life that was anything but. It may not go far behind the scenes—the highs and the lows, the hits and the misses—but it brings together a collection of information that explains the many different phases in Bowie’s life. And while Bowie fans will already know the references to the various characters he took up throughout his career—Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke, among others—there are also enough fun facts and trivia in this biography to enlighten and fascinate the casual reader. 

The book describes Bowie as “a shimmering chimera changing to reflect what we hope to find, and what we don’t expect to find: the romantic troubadour, the glammed outer space messiah, the burnt-out case from another world, the sophisticated, world-weary philosopher, the aging artist facing his own mortality.” 

There’s no doubt he was an artist unlike any other, even in today’s diverse musical landscape, and his music will remain popular for generations to come. So the next time someone awkwardly asks about the great man, here’s a quick and easy read to throw their way. (kes)

Click here to read the book.


Title: David Bowie: A Biography

Author: Davanna Cimino

Published: July 26, 2012

Publisher: Hyperink

Pages:  32

Reviewer: Christabelle Adeline Palar

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.