by Dave Thompson
No apologies for this book being entirely in French — you should have paid more attention at school, shouldn’t you? But in a world that is fast becoming buried beneath “new” David Bowie books, it’s refreshing to spend time with one that (a) doesn’t try and convince us all that anything Bowie’s recorded since Diamond Dogs was actually any good, and (b) isn’t pursuing some hare-brained theory of its own, based around the Taoist significance of the jeans he was wearing on the cover of Tin Machine Suck Your Brains Out Through A Straw.
Seknadje is a fan first, a scholar and analyst a none-too-shabby second, and “Le Phénomène” offers up his well-versed take on every aspect of Bowie’s most brilliant years. Tracing the career in sensibly chronological order, but leaping within there to pick up the strands that he considers most relevant, Seknadje is at the same time intriguing and engrossing; all the more so since his take on all things Bowie is rooted not within the Anglo-American hegemony that traditionally dictates rock writing, but a uniquely Gallic point of view, which in turn makes the reader reconsider some hallowed truths. As such, “Le Phénomène” becomes a brand-new take on a very old tale and, as such, is well worth refreshing those old French lessons for.
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