Bowie Sighting: Matt Haig

Novelist Matt Haig has a memoir coming out on March 5, 2015, Reasons to Stay Alive, which has been getting a lot of press.

I don’t know if David Bowie will prove a reason, and I am not being silly. I’ll explain below.

I do know that there is every indication that Haig is a Bowie fan. I’ve only read three of his novels, and The Labrador Pact (The Last Family in England in the UK) was narrated by a dog, but in two of the other books, there were these can’t miss Bowie sightings.

The Radleys is about a family of ancestral and acquired propensity vampires in contemporary Britain who are trying to be abstainers. But it is hard for Dad Peter Radley, who with his brother Will had flown to Berlin in 1977 “to watch Iggy Pop and David Bowie play a joint set at the Autobahn nightclub.” The teenage daughter has watched The Hunger but prefers Lost Boys, although her uncle says the 1931 Dracula is “‘the only one directed by an actual vampire.'”

But it is Jared, a non-vampire, who is the biggest Bowie fan in the book, and one night he is entranced when a favorite video comes on TV:

‘Ashes to Ashes’ by David Bowie. He used to be a massive Bowie fan, back in his day, when he knew how to really feel music. And as he sits there, watching the procession of harlequins walking across the screen, he experiences an obscure, contented feeling, which seems to be related to the rich scent in the air. . . [He] realizes he is lowering his head in the direction of the bottle and the uncorked top from which the delicious aromas are leaking out, like spores of a heavenly pollen.

Haig’s next novel, The Humans, has one allusion to Bowie, but it is a particularly lovely one. An alien who came to Earth on a mission of malevolence toward humans learns several dozen things about the species, including:

David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ tells you nothing about space, but its musical patterns are very pleasing to the ears.

I was having a hard 2011. I was not then looking for reasons to stay alive: I had no choice but to. Someone I love very much had been very badly injured in the several ways people can be, all at once.

Little could be done, and little helped me. But Bowie did.

There were many sleepless pre-dawn hours.  I vacated my life in the only way I could: looking at Tumbl’r after Tumbl’r of Bowie and watching youtube after youtubes of Bowie. One night that fall in a strange city I went to a midnight showing of  the re-release big screen Man Who Fell to Earth, and then I walked for hours in light rain waiting for the hospital’s main entrance to open. All those months I listened to Bowie and only Bowie. I consciously cultivated an obsession and I needed it.

Bowie wasn’t a reason for me to stay alive. But he sure made being alive easier.

He survived — I’d go back and look at those skeletal pictures and I would think — he survived, improvement is possible, it is it is it is, he survived.

And yes, my dear one survived, and is very well in all the ways a human can be. And I survived.


3 thoughts on “Bowie Sighting: Matt Haig

  1. Incredible. I am in the same situation and doing the same things instinctively. And yeah, looking at Tumbl’r after Tumbl’r of Bowie and watching youtube after youtubes of Bowie. I listen to Bowie and only Bowie. And it help me.

    1. I wonder if David has any idea how much he has given us. I hope things get better for you soon, Eva.

      1. Thank! Until that happens, I hold on to David’s music, till I can find myself again. 🙂

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