David Bowie

Electric Literature asked a few of us authors to write about the life of David Bowie. Here are a few samples from some of us (below). The full series can be read there.

Sasha Hemon:
“The greatest thing about Heroes was that I didn’t understand it; I couldn’t enter it to appropriate it. It was never going to be about me. Which is why it never got boring and I’ve never stopped listening to it. It became a presence in my life, a radiant influence. Because of its strangeness, I’m now aware, I started formulating to myself what a great work of art is and could be. I began understanding that Heroes is one of the twentieth century’s masterpieces, and that “Heroes” is the greatest song of all time. More importantly, I learned that a great work of art can never be spent, it never stops meaning, retaining a core that outlives the circumstances of its creation, constantly changing while always staying the same.”

Marie-Helen Bertino:
“Unlike rock bands who can hide among their number, when David Bowie took the stage, he did so alone. All eyes on him. That he decided to place assumed personas between the audience and him makes sense to those of us who understand wanting to simultaneously shine and hide. Beautiful buffers. It’s no wonder that practitioners of the solitary art of writing palpably worship artists like him, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan… It’s no wonder that when one dies we feel like part of us dies. I’m writing this for Bowie because when we lose Bob Dylan you won’t be able to find me.”

“You know now that he believed singing to people he could not see moved him deeply and that he did not expect to be able to repeat the experience. You shrug and think that doing one brave and beautiful thing should be enough for any artist. You are sitting in a country far from the place where you were born, wrapped in a blanket and looking out on waters from the Pacific, thinking about compassion and literature, when you hear the news. You close your eyes and turn on “Rock ’N Roll Suicide,” all quiet in the inside of your head. You imagine hands reaching all the way across the world. Gimme your hands, you say, gimme your hands ‘cause you’re wonderful.