Bowman, David 1957-
BOWMAN, David 1957-
PERSONAL: Born December 8, 1957; son of an industrial writer and a homemaker; married Chloe Wing (a photographer), August 25, 1989. Education: Attended a private high school in Interlochen, MI. Religion: "Jehovah better watch out."
CAREER: Strand Bookstore, New York, NY, staff member, 1976–78; freelance writer, 1978–. Ear Inn, bartender.
MEMBER: Editorial Freelancers Association, Herman Melville Society.
AWARDS, HONORS: Elmer H. Bobst Emerging Writer Award, New York University, 1992, for Let the Dog Drive.
Let the Dog Drive (novel), New York University Press (New York, NY), 1993.
Bunny Modern: A Novel, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1998.
This Must Be the Place: The Adventures of the Talking Heads in the Twentieth Century, HarperEntertainment (New York, NY), 2001.
Contributor to periodicals, including New York Times Book Review and Salon.
SIDELIGHTS: David Bowman's first novel, Let the Dog Drive, is a unique blend of detective fiction, road opus, surrealistic satire, and fantasy, laced with cinematic and literary allusions. The story concerns Bud Salem, the eighteen-year-old narrator, and his relationship with Sylvia Cushman, a literary-minded homemaker who discerns secret geometric patterns in the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Bud travels to Dickinson's home in Amherst, Massachusetts, then to Detroit to meet Sylvia's husband, Joshua. Joshua, an automotive engineer, runs safety tests on cars by having dogs drive them in orchestrated, fatal accidents. The cast of characters also includes Bud's father, who takes pictures of the dogs' souls; an Iranian debutante who is fleeing death squads; and a cowboy in New York, who engages in a shootout in the Coney Island Aquarium. Let the Dog Drive won the Elmer Holmes Bobst award in 1994, and is a "technically proficient postmodernist exercise," according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
Bowman's next novel, Bunny Modern: A Novel, is set in a futuristic world in which electricity is no longer available. The faithful believe that one day it will return, and they hoard and worship old appliances. Love and fertility have also vanished in this setting; women have great difficulty conceiving because the lack of electricity is causing men's sperm to swim backwards, away from the ovum. Babies are so precious that they must be protected from kidnappers by armed nannies, who are given special drugs that make them fiercely protective of their charges without allowing them to form true emotional bonds with them. The worlds of fashion and literature have blended together, so that people wear clothing lines named for nineteenth-century authors, and books have French seams. Dylan, the narrator, finds himself falling in love with a nanny named Clare, who is in charge of an eternally-young baby named Soda, who is possibly the cause of the electricity drought. "No one can accuse Bowman of dullness or slow pacing," commented a Seattle Times writer. "From its opening—an invigorating shootout in Greenwich Village's Washington Square—to its final, almost mystical vision involving a VCR and Fred Astaire, 'Bunny Modern' goes like a rocket and never loses its sharpness. Told in one of the most assured voices in contemporary American fiction, it is a deliciously twisted amalgam of screwball comedy, cutting satire, eerie millennial unease and sentimental romance." The reviewer cautioned that "the point of the novel is elusive," but concluded that "Once Bowman establishes that his fiction has more meat on the bones of its style, his writing will rank among the nation's best."
Bowman chronicled the career of art-rock band Talking Heads in This Must be the Place: The Adventures of Talking Heads in the 20th Century. The band's members Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison and David Byrne came from diverse backgrounds to join in making music that was at once provocative, strange, and danceable. Bowman covers the quartet's individual beginnings, the group's formation and evolution, their breakup in 1991, and the aftermath. In doing so, he interviewed all the band members and fifty other subjects to get as full a picture as possible. This Must be the Place is "a funny, astute book [that] tells how they pulled it off and why they pulled the plug," mused a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 1998, Kevin Grandfield, review of Bunny Modern: A Novel, p. 773.
Daily Telegraph, June 9, 2001, Helen Brown, review of This Must Be the Place: The Adventures of Talking Heads in the 20th Century, p. 5.
Entertainment Weekly, January 16, 1998, Margot Mifflin, review of Bunny Modern, p. 64.
Houston Chronicle, February 15, 1998, Brian Howard, review of Bunny Modern, p. 27.
Library Journal, December, 1997, Lawrence Rungren, review of Bunny Modern, p. 146; April 1, 2001, Dave Szatmary, review of This Must Be the Place, p. 102.
Los Angeles Times, March 2, 1993, p. E4.
New Yorker, March 15, 1993, review of Let the Dog Drive, p. 123.
New York Times Book Review, February 7, 1993, Tim Sandlin, review of Let the Dog Drive, p. 11; January 11, 1998, review of Bunny Modern, p. 9.
Publishers Weekly, November 2, 1992, review of Let the Dog Drive, p. 52; November 3, 1997, review of Bunny Modern, p. 66; April 2, 2001, review of This Must Be the Place, p. 51.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 21, 1998, Helen Verongos, review of Bunny Modern, p. D5.
Seattle Times, January 15, 1998, review of Bunny Modern, p. G21.
Southern Review, summer, 1998, Michael Griffith, review of Bunny Modern, p. 587.