Book Review: This Is (Not) About David Bowie

A little while ago I stumbled across this little book completely by chance. I was reading the May Digest from Firewords and one of the linked articles was titled ‘How to write a collection‘. It just so happens that a collection is exactly what I’m working on at the moment so I clicked on through to see if there were any words of wisdom for me. It was serendipitous that this article contained exactly the advice and encouragement I didn’t know I needed. One of my biggest fears about the collection I’ve been working on is that it doesn’t fit into a particular genre. I just couldn’t work out what it was and whether I should be trying to make it something different. In the article, F J Morris says this:

Genres evolved to help readers find the books they enjoy: fantasy, sci fi, historical fiction, romance, etc. But what if you want to do all these things like I wanted to? I had to shake up my thinking. I had to go outside of fiction and into the world of music. Bowie let me cross genres. Bowie had found my people. He had created his own genre, his own audience.

It was a wonderful reminder that art – my own or anyone else’sdoesn’t have to fit neatly into a box. That, in fact, the most beautiful thing about so much of the art we love is that it doesn’t fit neatly anywhere. I was also completely enamoured by the idea of a collection inspired by Bowie. I immediately went and downloaded the book on my kindle.

This Is (Not) About David Bowie is a brilliant collection that works exactly as Morris envisioned. In the article she reflected that she wanted to give people a ‘sense of journey…order, mystery and growth’ like that created by an album. She executed this vision wonderfully. Poetry, plays and flash fiction are interwoven with Bowie quotes that serve to signal what lies ahead. Each element is unique but they tie together seamlessly, creating a whole that – like its inspiration – is beautifully undefinable and genre defying.

I thoroughly enjoyed every part: thoughtful, provocative, moving and at times wonderfully weird, it’s a truly unique collection that reminds us we don’t have to fit in a box.

What are some of your favourite collections or genre-defying works?

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