David Bowie’s main literary influences –

David Bowie’s main literary influences –

After “Frictions”, the first book that explores the mutual influences of rock and literature, Yann Courtiau publishes “David Bowie, proofreader in the fable”. The Geneva author presents a portrait of Bowie, crazy about literature, nurturing his creation with readings as unusual as they are inspiring.

In the mid-1970s, on the set of the film “The Man Who Came from Another Place” by director Nicolas Roeg, David Bowie took more than a hundred books with him for the next eleven weeks. Between each scene he immersed himself in reading. It was this list that the Geneva author, bookseller and music lover Yann Courtiau discovered in 2013 at the center of the traveling exhibition “David Bowie is” and into which he immersed himself in order to paint a portrait of David Bowie as an omnivorous reader. and gluttonous.

“At the exhibition, there was also a trunk in which he transported books on the set of Nicolas Roeg’s film. In reality, there were 75 to 80 books on the list, as well as magazines. But suddenly it appeared when even a recipe for David Bowie’s literary book and certain books that influenced major changes in his life”, explains Yann Courtiau for RTS, who had an epiphany reading individual works from this very masculine list.

The reader in the play [DR - DR]The reader in the play [DR – DR]Kerouac, Orwell or Nabokov as references

His work in the form of an essay starts from the observation that reading not only accompanied the English singer’s artistic creation, but also foreshadowed major developments in his life. Thus, in “David Bowie, proofreader of fables” we find figures such as Kerouac, Orwell, Nabokov, Anthony Burgess, Evelyn Waugh, Yukio Mishima and lesser-known authors such as Anatole Broyard or Muriel Spark.

“I parallel certain books with the great movements of his life. We have authors that we find on certain songs or on albums, like Orwell and Burroughs on ‘Diamond Dogs’ (1974) and much more late Mishima on the song ‘Heat’ from the album ‘The Next Day’ (2013) There is also John Rechy’s fantastic book, ‘Cité de la nuit’, where a young gay man goes in search of adventure, emancipation, first love in New York and then Los Angeles.A comparable story with Bowie’s fascination with America, fleeing its bleak English suburbs to settle in New York and then moving to this place of ruin that is Los Angeles,” explains Yann Courtiau.

>> Watch: clip “Heat”, taken from the album “The Next Day”

Appeal to marginal characters

The English singer who always bought boxes of books while living in the heights of Lausanne also had a penchant for marginal characters. He also felt a real fascination with the Angry Youth Movement, which emerged in the late 1950s in England with writers and playwrights rebelling against bourgeois mores. Men who chose to say what they feel, not what they should feel. An aesthetic of rupture that would inspire Bowie the transformist.

In any case, literature is at the center of the artist’s life, who, when asked by Proust about his idea of ​​perfect happiness, simply says: reading. “David Bowie was educated through reading, it was the place where he experienced his freedom: because reading is an adventure, a conquest, it is also a way to answer our worries or sometimes to emphasize in a dizzying way certain of our fantasies (and Bowie had plenty in stock!)”, writes Yann Courtiau in “David Bowie, proofreader in the fable”.

The interview was conducted by Nicolas Julliard

Adaptation Network: Olivier Horner

Yann Courtiau, “David Bowie, Reader in a Fable”, edited by La Baconniere.

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