Review: Bowie: An Illustrated Life

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Bowie: An Illustrated Life

By Maria Hesse and Frank Ruiz.  Translated by Ned Sublette

I grew up knowing Bowie’s music.  I remember Bowie as an alien from space; his movie: “the last man on earth”; his gender fluidity (ahead of his time), and his always dilated pupil that added to his distinctive style and persona.  So when I saw this book it grabbed my curiosity – who was David Bowie?

This translated from Spanish book, with colorful and interpretive snapshots, provides an entertaining and informative glimpse of Bowie’s public and private life, music and disappearance from this earth.  

From his childhood to the end of life, the book captures the essence of Bowie’s inner “alien”.  The real Bowie is revealed.  The authors and illustration artists take you on a journey through his musical progressions, romantic interludes and family riffs. 

About The Book

David Bowie was a master of artifice and reinvention. In that same spirit, illustrator María Hesse and writer Fran Ruiz have created a vivid retelling of the life of David Robert Jones, from his working-class childhood to glam rock success to superstardom, concluding with the final recording sessions after his cancer diagnosis.

Narrated from the rock star’s point of view, Bowie colorfully renders both the personal and the professional turning points in a life marked by evolution and innovation. We see Bowie facing the sorrow of his brother’s mental illness, kicking a cocaine habit while other musicians succumbed to deadly overdoses, contending with a tumultuous love life, and radiating joy as a father. 

About The Author: María Hesse

An illustrator and graphic designer, María Hesse is the author of Frida Kahlo: An Illustrated Life. Fran Ruiz is a professor of geography and history, and his writing regularly appears in the magazine Cultural Use Manual. Ned Sublette is a musicologist and the author of four previous books. 

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Article originally Published in the October/November 2019 Issue “Read Global”

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