reviewed by Charlie Jack Joseph Kruger
There are few figures in the halls of art history who command such a strong and passionate response as David Bowie. There have always been other artists who have spoken to the outsiders, to the aliens, and there have always been artists who have transformed and morphed through time with ease and poise, but none have ever done it quite like Bowie has. From balladeer to alien to duke, to monster, to warrior, to neo-classicist, Bowie has not just wiggled and writhed into a million new masks and shells, but he has managed to maintain an integrity and an honesty that is not only unquestionable, but almost unbelievable.
In this short book, Simon Critchley explores the identity and honesty of such an artistic chameleon. By tying in his own personal development, and the stages of his life, the author is able to create a very human scale to measure Bowie's extra-human changes and path.
I was deeply impressed with Critchley's ability to weave Bowie's lyrics into the narrative with apparent ease. Jumping from era to era to illustrate points of change, I feel that Critchley worked out a lot of wrinkles in the fabric of his argument painstakingly.
Now, while I don't wholly agree with all the points in this book (to quote Bowie himself, “Fuck you, I like Tin Machine”) I am impressed by the devotional qualities of it. I also don't feel that this book was written to be definitive or even completely identifiable. It is about Critchley's path with Bowie. His development through and alongside the gifted artist. So obviously, all of our own paths would be different. This book isn't a roadmap, its a window... one I am quite glad to have gotten to peer into.