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David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries

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Former Talking Heads frontman, solo musician, visual artist and cyclist David Byrne is one of the most interesting people creating music and art today. Since the early ’80s, he’s traveled the world and usually hopped on a bike when he got to his destination.

You can see what he saw and read his thoughts about what he did in a new book, “Bicycle Diaries.”

Released this week, the book includes Byrne’s observations and insights of his hometown of New York City as well as towns ranging from Berlin to Buenos Aires, Istanbul to Sydney and Manila to Baltimore. Reading “Bicycle Diaries” is like being inside Byrne’s brain as he pedals: He describes everything he sees and discusses the ideas and questions the images provoke.

David Byrne’s “Bicycle Diaries”

And Byrne does have a lot of questions about the world. In some sections he gets downright Socratic, asking one question after another about a topic. But these stream-of-consciousness questions are rarely answered. Sometimes it’s because the question is the answer itself and other times it’s a bit frustrating for a reader to attempt to decipher Byrne’s inner musings.

Readers benefit from Byrne’s access to art-world stars like Mark Pauline, the head of San Francisco’s Survival Research Laboratory, a performance art group that builds machines that fight one another in the name of art.

A balance of travelogue, meditation on what makes particular cities what they are, and thoughts on urban policy and planning make the book a unique trip into Byrne’s mind. It sells for $25.95.

Read a sample section of the book here.

—Stephen Krcmar

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