David Bowie: Starman, by Paul Trynka. (website)
I haven’t read any biographies of David Bowie in recent years, maybe because a lot of what I picked up in the early 90s could easily be classified as utter rubbish. Over-dramatic tellings of Bowie’s half-brother Terry’s mental illness, or the most dreadful example: Angela Bowie’s supposed memoir, which purported to tell the reader all about how she found Bowie and Jagger in bed together… if only you’d read till the end of the book. (By the way, don’t bother, it was quite the anti-climax.)
Even from the first chapters of Starman, I could tell the book would be of high quality, but I should note that while I am still a huge fan of Bowie, I’m less interested in what his background is and more interested in what material he’s putting out, whether it be music, art, or film. All I hoped when starting this book was to not be bored.
Paul Trynka has some good credits to his name: author of an Iggy Pop bio in 2008 and formerly the editor of MOJO magazine, to name but a few. At least a guy from the music biz would have a different outlook than other, non-music writers.
Now, about the book.
There’s more than enough detail to satisfy everyone, from the casual fan to the most dedicated, even me. (Though if you’re reading to find out what Bowie has for breakfast, keep looking.) Even as someone who has read a lot on Bowie, I enjoyed this book and found it informative. It’s exactly the sort of book that I would recommend to a new fan who wants to know (almost) everything.
There are quite a few biographies of David Bowie floating around, even recently, when the man himself hasn’t been as much of a force on the music scene. (Dear David, I would love if you’d put out some new material. Anything, even just an EP.) While I don’t know how complete some of the other recent material is, I’m especially impressed with Trynka’s extensive notes and acknowledgments. Notes for each chapter are informal (no footnotes here) but cover all the sources used, especially highlighting the main interviewees for each section. Far more readable than standard academic notes (and I’ve read a lot of those in my time.) I only wish that the book was available in eBook format so that I could stick it onto my Kindle and carry it around for easy reference.
Before I finish off, I must tell you that Trynka ends with the Fashion Rocks event, and in reading about it, I remembered that I hadn’t watched that performance in some time. So, I just had to find it on YouTube to share: