Bowie’s Books and Why Bowie Matters

Dorian Lynskey at The Guardian:

Bowie was a famously insatiable reader. As a teenager in Bromley he was schooled in the Beats by his older brother Terry. Cocaine-crazed in 1970s America, he would stay up all night inhaling books about the occult from his 1,500-volume portable library. In 1998, somewhat more well adjusted, he wrote reviews for Barnes & Noble. Feeling from an early age formless and incomplete, he rebuilt himself from pieces of the things he loved: not just literature and music but cinema, art, people, places. While the similarly well-read Bob Dylan preferred to veil his sources, Bowie made an exhibition of them – literally so at his touring museum show David Bowie Is, where some of his favourite books dangled from the ceiling like mobiles. He was the star-as-fan and his fandom was promiscuous. When LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy admitted that he had pillaged his hero’s back catalogue, Bowie replied graciously: “You can’t steal from a thief, darling.” In an interview in 1972, however, he was less cavalier. “Sometimes I don’t feel as if I’m a person at all,” he lamented. “I’m just a collection of other people’s voices.”

more here.