“The Books That Changed David Bowie’s Life” (2020)

john-oconnell-bowies-books-2020

“David Bowie was a voracious reader and made a list, three years before he died, of the 100 books that had changed his life. These had fuelled his creativity, shaped who he was, and they provide a new way of understanding him. For each book, John O’Connell provides a short, insightful essay and pairs it with a Bowie song. Perhaps surprisingly, only eight books are concerned directly with musical subjects, while 12 relate to various aspects of the visual arts. Some are about mental illness; his half-brother Terry had schizophrenia and died by suicide and Bowie battled depression. There are some interesting poetry choices such as Dante’s Inferno and Homer’s Iliad. Of the eclectic novel collection, some are predictable but many are certainly not, and black people’s and outsiders’ experiences characterise the non-fiction.” [. . .]    —Brian Maye, The Irish Times, March 7, 2020.

Selva Oscura Album, Lawrence English and William Basinski (2018)

“Tonight, as part of the Fulcrum Arts Annual Benefit fundraiser—which itself sits within Fulcrum Arts’ A×S Festival: City as Wunderkammer—Lawrence English and William Basinski will present the world premiere performance of their collaborative album Selva Oscura.”    –XLR8R Staff, XLR8R, November 7, 2018

“9 Times Marilyn Manson Was the Greatest Rockstar in Any Circle of Hell”

“Marilyn Manson, the man and his eponymous band, brought darkness back into the spotlight in the early ‘90s. Achieving popularity without a scalp scraped by butterfly clips or an official Pog line, Manson became the new face of fear. Fear of violence, sex, vulgarity, drugs, and most crucially Satanism. He was hailed by fans of alternative music, and reviled by the mainstream, as the self-styled Antichrist Superstar. Just like mythical depictions of the Anti-Christ, Manson has a silver (forked) tongue and an intelligence that few can comprehend. He is a cause for parents to fear their teenager’s headphones, coiled around their babies like the snake in Eden.

[. . .]

In Manson, no creative force has brought such a vivid and lyrical depiction of Hell since Dante’s Inferno, the first part of the fourteenth-century epic poem Divine Comedy. The band’s back catalogue gives as nuanced and sprawling a Hell as Dante, taking listeners through all nine circles. Whereas Dante’s guide was Roman Poet Virgil, ours is the icon formally known as Brian Warner.”    –Daniel Wylie, What Culture, August 10, 2020

Tina Turner: By the Book

“What books do you find yourself returning to again and again?

‘In 2017, my kidneys were failing and I went through a prolonged period of dialysis. Every time I went to the clinic, I brought the same three books with me: The Book of Secrets, by Deepak Chopra, The Divine Comedy, by Dante, and a book of photography by the extraordinary Horst P. Horst. I needed something for the spirit, something for the intellect and something for the senses, and the ritual of studying the same books while I was undergoing treatment was comforting to me because it imposed order on a situation I couldn’t otherwise control.’

“You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?

‘I like a dinner party to be a lively mixture of different kinds of people — young, old and everything in between. So my first choice would be Dante — after all my years of studying The Divine Comedy, I need to ask him a lot of questions! I could be his Beatrice! Since I can’t choose between Anne Rice and Stephen King, I’d set places for both of them. Their books have kept me awake for many a night because there’s nothing I enjoy more than a good scare! And I’d definitely serve Thai food, because I like things spicy.’ ” […]    –Jillian Tamaki, The New York Times, October 18, 2018