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Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division
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Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  6,107 Ratings  ·  291 Reviews
This is an account of the mesmerising life and tragic death of Ian Curtis, lead singer of Joy Division, told from the perspective of his wife Deborah. It contains a discography, gig list and a full set of lyrics.
Paperback, 212 pages
Published April 4th 1996 by Faber & Faber (first published 1995)
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Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it

A book about Ian Curtis? Shut up and take my money.

Sep 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: don't walk away in silence
Recommended to Mariel by: don't walk away
It was small and wrapped from head to toe in dirty rags, swaddled like a new-born baby. It was suspended from the telegraph pole and fluttered in the breeze before sailing gently down. Like an autumn leaf, it landed softly in the brook and its streamlined shape was taken quickly on the surface of the water, disappearing into the distance. I squeeze my own whole body to scream but on waking all I could hear were my own muffled sobs.
My small daughter cuddled closer and tried to comfort me: 'Don'
Feb 16, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a wonderful peek into the Iconic Ian Curtis' private life; however I suggest that you keep in mind who is telling the story. My suggestion would be to read “The Life of Ian Curtis – Torn Apart” by Mick Middles and Lindsay Reade either while reading this book or directly after reading it. This may help to buffer some of the incriminations Deborah Curtis brings forward against her long deceased husband. My problem with Deborah Curtis and this book is that she is generous with details on ac ...more
Feb 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I started reading this book around 4 or 5 years ago, and was really enjoying it at the time. And then I put it down for some unknown reason. I finally got around to picking it up again, and decided to read from the start because I couldn't remember where I'd left off before - and I'm so glad I did.

This is a very touching and painful biography of Ian Curtis's life to read, as told from the close, personal perspective of his widow Deborah Curtis. I am glad that I have never idolised Ian Curtis, be
Aug 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: joy division fans
A "tell-all" of everybody's favorite suicide...Ian Curtis. You like Manchester, you like New Order, a fan of Joy Division, want to know more about the man, the myth, the deceased frontman....then read this. If you don't then, don't read this...duh, what did you think I was going to say. Beg you to read this? Whatever you probably LOVE Interpol and think they are so original...without Joy Divsion you wouldn't have any of that stuff. Original PERIOD. Me lady is a big fan of Joy Division/New Order ...more
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this quite a while ago. I have a first edition copy of this somewhere. Unlike my more heavy reading habits, I don't feel like this subject matter needs to be fresh in my mind to write a review.

I just started listening to Joy Division again after many years of not listening to them. I often go through periods of genre listening. I suppose what sparked a renewed interest in Joy Division and Post-Punk was the fact that I just started listening to The The and I've been pretty impressed. I'm
Oct 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
The difficulty in reading this book is not that Ian's wife paints him as a racist, violent, abusive, controlling, insecure, right-wing mess of a human being, but that this boring housewife (how could he ever have had any interest in her?) portrays herself wholly as a victim for the first half of the book. One example is that she bites him on the back, drawing blood, and is pushed out of bed, taking no responsibility for her action--saying the taste of the blood 'shocked' her--while portraying th ...more
Aug 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: big-white-square
I think you can skip the book and just read this article from The Guardian:

The article is more eloquent, more poignant and shorter. I liked this bit:
"I saw a review on Amazon once, somebody had written, 'She doesn't understand her subject'. And I thought, 'Well, surely that's the point?'" She sighs.

This middle section of "Touching from a Distance" dragged for me. Lots of arguing about carrying amps at gigs.

I hate it when Northern-types bang on about London
Paul Gleason
Nov 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
Readers of this book have to remember that just because Deborah Curtis was married to Ian, she doesn't have special insight into his personality. All biographies are CONSTRUCTS - and reading this book brings you no closer (yes, I used that word) to Ian than simply spinning one of Joy Division's records.

The essential problem with the book is that DC presents IC as such a one-dimensional character - a rat bastard and terrible husband.

An exercise: Listen to ANY Joy Division song and ask yourself a
Oct 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
I wouldn't say Deborah Curtis is a great writer but the way she manages to convey her complex feelings about Ian Curtis is both believable and touching. If you've seen the movie "Control" and/or "24 Hour Party People", you might want to read this book as it strips away the "myth from the man" to reveal Ian's, rather intense, character flaws and emotional issues that pre-date his epilepsy. I was especially surprised to read about his violence and control issues. He controlled what Deborah wore, w ...more
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Having seen Control for the third time, I was very eager to read this book. Unsurprisingly, the book written by Deborah, gave me, and not only me, the sad, dejecting and on the other hand, beautiful image of a person, whose only wish was to become famous and release an LP and a single.

This book, bearing in mind being subjective, gave me a further insight into Deborah and Ian's problematic life. His being distant to everybody made him interesting to some people around.
I must admit that I feel a
Nov 09, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Manchester Post-Punk, and that's about it.
This is an mildly interesting read, though it's probably only of interest to fans of Joy Division, Factory and the late 70's Manchester Post-Punk scene. Deborah Curtis's writing could definitely use more life, but as far as a document of events it functions ably. Some people will probably even find the mannered English delivery a nice respite from what's usually found in rock bios, and I appreciated the effort she seemed to put into being objective. Of course, it makes for a great companion piec ...more
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you've built your idea of Ian Curtis through the biopic Control, or if as a fan you insist on perpetuating the idea that Ian was a troubled misunderstood soul, you're probably missing part of the picture. I won't deny that Ian must have been all that, but he was a human being who also contained flaws within the net of his personality.
This biography is also a partial and subjective look into Ian Curtis' life, but by accessing many partial views perhaps we may aproach the truth of who Ian reall
Jan 18, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Per lungo tempo ho evitato di acquistarlo, nonostante Jan Curtis sia uno degli idoli della mia adolescenza: pensavo di sapere quello che mi aspettava. E infatti: mi è dispiaciuta la non obiettività . Il punto di vista è unilaterale, quello di una moglie dopo tanti anni incredibilmente livorosa. Ma anche il tono sciatto. Una scrittura a due mani non avrebbe certo nociuto. Che sbaglio, leggerlo. Voglio che i miei "Idoli" rimangano sul piedistallo, quasi "non-umani"...
Oct 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

My favorite JD songs, in no particular order:

I'm including these because I've definitely been in a Joy Division type of mood lately (winters in the Hub have a very Manchester-esque bleakness and bitterness, I'd i
Jeff Jackson
Jul 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: punk-rock-etc
Some parts are a bit flat and reportorial, while others are raw and harrowing. The sections about Ian Curtis's epilepsy are particularly troubling in their implications. This account shreds many of the romantic notions surrounding Joy Division, without ever quite touching the mystery of the music itself.
Britten Thompson
Apr 20, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a horrendously disjointed, and self-serving piece of vitriolic slander born of 15 years of vehemence boiling inside Deborah Curtis.
I don't believe Ian Curtis was perfect, however, I don't believe he was the devil Deborah made him out to be. She alternates between trash-talking Ian to saying how much she loves him, and what a good wife she was to him. She goes so far as to say that he faked some of his seizures, and that his previous suicide attempts were for attention, or to act out some
Jul 22, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Joy Division fans; ex-punks and New Romantics; lovers of great music
Recommended to Lori by: a fellow Joy Division devotee
Shelves: music, memoir
For those of us who are lucky or, perhaps, foolish enough to allow music to rule a large part of our lives, there is always an elite set of artists and or songs that make such an impact that it is almost painful. The band that smacked me right across the gob and changed me forever was Joy Division.

By the time I heard the astonishing voice and, yes, haunting words of Ian Curtis, he had been dead at least 3 years by his own hand. Ian was a James Dean type persona. He took himself out when he was o
Nov 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
They say you should never meet your idols because you will usually be disappointed. That was somewhat the case with reading this book. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Joy Division and Ian Curtis' lyrics. However, he was not very kind to his wife at all. Of course this could have been exageraged since she did write this book. The 1st part of the book focus on this a little much and I started to get tired of it. However the 2nd part of the book tends to take a look at Ian's whole situation (at least from his wif ...more
Thomas Strömquist
"I probably cannot be trusted at all when it comes to reviewing anything Joy Division, but I do believe that Deborah Curtis honest and gripping story will appeal to anyone - and be utterly indispensable for anyone into Ian's work."
Oct 02, 2010 rated it liked it
i expected more from this one.
his personality demand more from biographer. it was necessary to have another dimension, but all you get are facts.
still, if you're interested in curtis, you have to read this book. for informations, at least.
i recommend the film: control.
Julia Schulz
Dec 26, 2017 rated it liked it
An intense read and a very sad story: albeit well written. Deborah Curtis writes from the heart and shares with us her memories and journey as an innocent and helpless bystander in Ian Curtis's life. Left to raise their daughter alone, my heart goes out to this poor woman. Very sad indeed. I had to put this book aside for a time as i felt depressed by the whole situation. When you read what some people have to put up with in life, it makes you grateful that your life is ok.
Airiz C
Feb 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I stared at him, he was so still. Then the rope - I hadn’t noticed the rope. The rope from the clothes rack was around his neck. I ran through to the sitting room and picked up the telephone. No, supposing I was wrong—another false alarm. I ran back to the kitchen and looked at his face –a long string of saliva hung from his mouth. Yes, he really had done it. What to do next? I looked around the room expecting to see Ian standing in a corner watching my reaction. My instinct that he was playing ...more
Mar 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Sometime around 4/1/11--I just started the book. Ian was a bit of a scamp as a kid who liked to get off on any chemical he could get his hands on. He and his chums got involved in some social services scheme in Macclesfield where they'd visit the elderly. While one entertained their aging charge, the other would rummage through the medicine cabinet. In one instance, the drug they found was stronger than anything Ian and his friend Tony had ever tried before. They both wound up in the hospital, g ...more
Aug 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: biographies, rock
I bought the book after having watched the movie "Control", which I enjoyed. However, I was surprised to learn that such a dispassionate movie was based on the biography written by Ian Curtis's widow.

I guessed that a woman with such a troubled past could hardly have written an unbiased report of her experience. Turns out, my instinct was right. Deborah Curtis' version is certainly not flattering for Ian. The tone of the book is bitter and resentful, even if it was written many years after the ev
Aug 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book has seemingly taken me ages but library books got in the way. This book gives an insight into Ian's life that other people would struggle to give. It shows you how much of a lost and confused individual he was. At times completely un-likeable but always totally relatable. Deborah Curtis tells us the story of their lives together right from the very start, through struggling with jobs, money and the band to becoming almost too big for his boots and leaving her for another woman. Ian com ...more
Oct 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent read, and a must-find for any Joy Division fan. Sadly, it reads more like a chronicle of missing the signs about Ian Curtis' depression than anything else. Yes, there are a number of great insights, and it provides a first-person description of some of the more storied events in the development of the Manchester scene at the time. Yes, it gets into all the nitty-gritty of Curtis' affair with Annik Honore and what that did to his already delicate psyche. However, when reading this, I ...more
Eve Kay
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Do not read this book

if you want to read about Joy Division or you enjoy reading about bands in general.

This book isn't about Joy Division. It's hardly about Ian Curtis and that's his face on the cover. It's more about Deborah Curtis. It is a means for her to vent. To get out what she has been holding in. Fair play, everyone should have their say, that's what I believe in. I knew something about Ian Curtis before I started reading, certainly have loved Joy Division for years. And happen to have
Deborah Curtis illustrates the story of Ian Curtis- at home, work, and in Joy Division- with a truly impressive amount of tenderness, patience, and love. Losing a loved one to mental illness is extremely emotionally traumatic, in ways that can't ever really be articulated. One thing she does make very clear, that I agree with, is that the guilt is overwhelming for every party involved, though no one is actually truly responsible.

Deborah Curtis doesn't really try to explain her emotional respons
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Goodreads Librari...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Add cover image 4 20 Apr 11, 2015 12:33AM  
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