I’m not too sure how to take a book that pays posthumous tribute to one of the world’s greatest artists but whose very first line gets the date of his death wrong.
Bowie A–Z appears to have all the right intentions – playing with animated art to present the many faces of one of the world’s most animated characters – but the copy I read, possibly a proof, begins with the line “When David Bowie died on January 16, 2016…”
Ba-bowwwww! Wrong. The date is actually January 10 and a simple Google search would have confirmed that for anyone. Getting such a simple statistic incorrect makes you wonder what other errors lurk beyond that very first line, putting you off as a reader from the get-go.
Alas, I did give the book a decent flick-through and must say it does cover a lot of Bowie ground – from A is for ‘Aladdin Sane’ and B is for ‘Berlin’ right through to Z is for ‘Ziggy Stardust’. At times, though, it seems bits have simply been lifted from Wikipedia and cut and pasted in erratic fashion.
Still, some factoids are presented with enough colour to keep you interested, albeit written in matter-of-fact style. Case in point: “Low was made while Bowie was withdrawing from his addiction to cocaine. The title clearly refers to his emotional state during the comedown, but also maintains a clever visual pun, with the side-on photograph of Bowie alluding to his current ‘low profile’.”
The illustrations by Libby VanderPloeg are pretty fab, similar to the comical jagged Cubist style Bowie adopted for the artwork on his Reality LP.
Hopefully, by the time publishers have picked up on an error or three in this novelty text, they’d have gotten it fixed up and reprinted.
Author Steve Wide is a Melbourne DJ and allegedly a writer. He has DJ-ed for an array of artists including shoegazers and stoners Happy Mondays, Primal Scream, The Shamen and Stone Roses. Perhaps he was on some stoner-like shit when he put this thing together?
Still, it’s kinda cute. Just not credible enough for posterity. Michael Mastess
‘Bowie A-Z’ is published through Smith Street Books, RRP $29.99.