A prismatic, imaginative exploration of David Bowie’s last days
An intricate collage-novel fusing and confusing fact and imagination, Always Crashing in the Same Car is a prismatic exploration of David Bowie through multiple voices and perspectives—the protean musician himself, an academic trying to compose a critical monograph about him, friends, lovers, musicologists, and others in Bowie’s orbit.
At its core beat questions about how we read others, how we are read by them, how (if at all) we can tell the past with something even close to accuracy, what it feels like being the opposite of young and still committed to bracing, volatile innovation.
Set during Bowie’s last months—those during which he worked on his acclaimed final album Black Star while battling liver cancer and the consequences of a sixth heart attack—yet washing back and forth across his exhilarating, kaleidoscopically costumed life, Always Crashing in the Same Car enacts a poetics of impermanence, of art, of love, of truth, even of death, that apparently most permanent of conditions.
Lance Olsen is professor of literature and creative writing at the University of Utah. He is author of more than 30 works of innovative fiction, including Skin Elegies, My Red Heaven, and Calendar of Regrets.
“As he takes us on a moving, multinodal journey through the stunning kaleidoscope that was David Bowie’s life, Olsen offers up a generous vision of the indispensable role of art, love and friendship as—with old mortality in the offing—we prosecute the wonders of our days and the challenges of our nights.” —Laird Hunt, author of The Impossibly
“Always Crashing in the Same Car presents a phantasmagorical mosaic of facts and fantasies concerning the life and art of David Bowie, for whom the mask always melted into the face and vice versa. A meditation on memory, loss, and love; on the projection of a writer’s self through their chosen idols; on the artist’s attempt to orchestrate the manner of a life’s conclusion. All this, Lance Olsen delivers, and more.” —Jonathan Lethem, author of The Fortress of Solitude
“Lance Olsen concocts a world in which the concoction of self is spectacularly illegible and gorgeously weird. Biography, lit crit, metafiction, history: everything and nothing belongs. Time is confetti and here comes the wind. Love and fatherhood, fortune and fame. Augury, memory, dream. Nothing’s sortable. This book blew my mind—it’s all questions, super-charged and divine.” —Noy Holland, author of I Was Trying to Describe What It Feels Like
“Bewildered and bereft, adrift in the ever-grief of his wife’s death, scholar Alec Nolens seeks comfort by immersing himself in the sea of words surrounding David Bowie, a project he imagines as a ‘love song,’ not so much to Bowie, ‘as to the lacunae around the thought of him.’ Lance Olsen’s visionary novel is the apotheosis of such a project. Always Crashing in the Same Car offers a kaleidoscope of Davids tenderly dissolving into Davy Jones, a desperately-human human being awakened to the expansive possibilities of consciousness by the news of his own impending departure, an un-Bowied genius composing his own rapturous elegy to this transient interlude we call a life.” —Melanie Rae Thon, author of As If Fire Could Hide Us and The Voice of the River
“In Always Crashing in the Same Car, David Bowie woos Iman with tales of the Museum of Jurassic Technology, that wonder-cabinet of the lurid imaginary. So, too, Lance Olsen’s novel, which presents Bowie as Citizen Kane, as the Dylan of I’m Not There, as that lyric which won’t parse, that image which becomes iconic but can’t simply communicate. Olsen ellipsizes a greedy-yet-giving Bowie, reader as much as rocker, neither celebrated nor reviled—Davy, determined to never be Mr. Jones.” —Eric Weisbard, author of Songbooks: The Literature of American Popular Music