So. David Bowie died.
I’m still having trouble with that concept. I do believe deep down I was convinced he was somehow above such tawdry human habits.
Ever since January 11th, I’ve been planning some tribute of my own here on anniesiskwrites.
Guys, it’s … it’s just not happening. Not yet, at any rate. No matter how many times I rearrange all my best words, the sum total is always inadequate to the task, and certainly not nearly as artful as the man
deserves deserved. (God damn it.)
So instead, I am here to propose a form of group grief therapy.
The David Bowie Memorial Book Club.
In the next section, you’ll find the full list of Bowie’s 100 favorite books, published first in an abridged version on a few news sites, then in complete form on Bowie’s official site here.
I’m working to source each of the titles online, though some are apparently out of print and you might have to dig for them, and some are ridiculously expensive and way beyond my means. I’ll keep working on adding the links throughout the process. (UPDATE: all available links have been added, except for periodicals and comics.)
What I propose is simple: let’s read some of Bowie’s favorite books. Let’s then come back here and chat about it. I’ll start off the discussion with a short blog post, and then we can discuss that book, including what might have appealed to Bowie himself.
What made these books his favorites? We know he read a lot, so 100 books is probably just a small fraction of the total.
Understand this isn’t another “Bowie Reading Challenge” – there seem to be a few of those up on various corners of the web, and if you want to read them all and in short order, that’s probably the kind of social support you’re looking for. That just feels a little off to me, and not what I really think I need at the moment.
I don’t even know that I’ll read most of the books on this list – let alone all (though I have already read about six or so, at first glance).
What I envision is something slower, more deliberate, more thoughtful.
I think this might be helpful for me, at any rate, and I’d love to have you join me, if you like.
I’m going to start with The Age of American Unreason, which I moved to the top of the list as a result of that selection, for the simple reason that I already have that on my Kindle but haven’t cracked into it yet.
So if you’d like to play along at home, get your hands on a copy, read, and come back in a week or so. If you’d like to be notified when I put the summary/discussion kick-start post up on the blog, hang tight – I’ll put up a form to sign up for an email list later this week and update this post with a link to it. Look for that on Friday.
the books on the list
The Age of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby
Interviews With Francis Bacon by David Sylvester
Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse
Room at the Top by John Braine
On Having No Head by Douglass Harding
Kafka Was the Rage by Anatole Broyard
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
City of Night by John Rechy
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Iliad by Homer
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Tadanori Yokoo by Tadanori Yokoo
Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin
Inside the Whale and Other Essays by George Orwell
Mr. Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood
Halls Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art by James A. Hall
David Bomberg by Richard Cork
Blast by Wyndham Lewis
Passing by Nella Larson
Beyond the Brillo Box by Arthur C. Danto
The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes
In Bluebeard’s Castle by George Steiner
Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd
The Divided Self by R. D. Laing
The Stranger by Albert Camus
Infants of the Spring by Wallace Thurman
The Quest For Christa T by Christa Wolf
The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Herzog by Saul Bellow
Puckoon by Spike Milligan
Black Boy by Richard Wright
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea by Yukio Mishima
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler
The Waste Land by T.S. Elliot
McTeague by Frank Norris
Money by Martin Amis
The Outsider by Colin Wilson
Strange People by Frank Edwards
English Journey by J.B. Priestley
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
1984 by George Orwell
The Life and Times of Little Richard by Charles White
Mystery Train by Greil Marcus
Beano (comic, ’50s)
Raw (comic, ’80s)
White Noise by Don DeLillo
Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom by Peter Guralnick
Silence: Lectures And Writing by John Cage
Writers At Work: The Paris Review Interviews edited by Malcolm Cowley
The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll by Charlie Gillete
Octobriana and the Russian Underground by Peter Sadecky
The Street by Ann Petry
Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby, Jr.
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Metropolitan Life by Fran Lebowitz
The Coast of Utopia by Tom Stoppard
The Bridge by Hart Crane
All the Emperor’s Horses by David Kidd
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess
The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos
Tales of Beatnik Glory by Ed Sanders
The Bird Artist by Howard Norman
Nowhere to Run: The Story of Soul Music by Gerri Hirshey
Before the Deluge by Otto Friedrich
Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia
The American Way of Death by Jessica Mitford (NB: link is to an updated version)
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Teenage by Jon Savage
Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Viz (comic, early ’80s)
Private Eye (satirical magazine, ’60s – ’80s)
Selected Poems by Frank O’Hara
The Trial of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens
Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes
Maldodor by Comte de Lautréamont
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonders by Lawrence Weschler
Zanoni by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
Transcendental Magic, Its Doctrine and Ritual by Eliphas Lévi
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
The Leopard by Giusseppe Di Lampedusa
Inferno by Dante Alighieri
A Grave for a Dolphin by Alberto Denti di Pirajno (NB: unavailable at this time)
The Insult by Rupert Thomson
In Between the Sheets by Ian McEwan
A People’s Tragedy by Orlando Figes
Journey Into the Whirlwind by Eugenia Ginzburg