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Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division Paperback – October 4, 2007

4.1 out of 5 stars 96 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (October 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571239560
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571239566
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #932,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In this book, Deborah Curtis gives an honest account of the story of her life as she became involved with Ian Curtis, as teenage friend, wife, and mother of his child. She does an excellent job of expressing her thoughts and feelings as she describes how their life was together, from when they first met, the time she was first introduced to punk music by Ian, their marriage at a very young age, the evolution of Joy Division and Ian's "stardom," the struggles she faced with balancing the care of their child while trying to make ends meet while her husband was out and about with the band and/or his mistress, as well as coping with the violent mood swings and epileptic fits that Ian underwent. In addition, the reader gains an insightful and behind-the-scenes look at Joy Division and the workings of the music world. The lifestyles of musicians may look all glamorous on the outside, but the road getting there is far from being anything glamorous, as well as pitted with weasels and parasites preying to latch onto the next rising star.

I think that Deborah Curtis' story clearly illustrates that if one is not wanting help, no matter how many people there are willing and able to help, there is no helping to be had by that person. Ian Curtis clearly did not want help. Deborah Curtis honestly portrays the helplessness she felt as well as, understandably, the exhaustion one cannot help feeling when dealing with a difficult person. As Deborah Curtis points out in her book, despite all the turns of circumstances and dire outcomes that could make someone want to commit suicide, dying at a young age is something Ian had always wanted to achieve. Ian Curtis chose his lifestyle accordingly for the inevitable to occur, to reach his desire to become a legendary "James Dean" figure.
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Format: Paperback
Ian Curtis, a mesmeric frontman and renowned lyricist, is every bit deserved of his mythical-iconic status. So, do you want to hear 'the story' recounted from the perspective of his cheated wife? Well, I did. And admittedly, it WAS an intriguing read, revealing a man full of faults but ultimately a dedicated, hard-working person who painstakingly forged a promising musical career. Sadly, however, it was his escalating personal problems that ironically became his group's 'selling point'.

Before the suicide that boosted record sales and confirmed Curtis' status among legends, the music press were already drawing attention to his burgeoning problem with epilepsy. Spurred on by his frantic, spasmodic dancing, live audiences must have seemed like eager spectators in a freak-show, baying for the crescendo of an on-stage fit. While this focal-point may have generated the hype the band needed in a highly-competitive industry, to Ian - whose depression was compounding his illness - the press reviews struck some disturbing parallels close to the bone ("In his opinion they were like psychiatric reports, even using the appropriate terminology and references"). Deborah reveals a man deeply embarrassed of his illness, yet obviously aware of its play in his desperate will for success. She portrays a man of contradictions, a Jekyll-and-Hyde figure: 'one-of-the-lads' to his bandmates and friends, while concealing a darker personality that sought refuge in thoughtful literature (Hesse, Dostoyevsky, Conrad, Ballard), held an interest in Nazism, and was fascinated by "extreme concepts and philosophies". Not to mention a death wish.
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Format: Paperback
I read Deborah Curtis' book a couple of months ago and have been surprised that I have not felt the same about the memory of Ian Curtis that I had since I heard he had died so many years ago. I saw Joy Division in concert when I was 15 years old in London and a couple of times on TV, I was hooked. I grew up wondering what kind of life this man had, what he was experiencing, what made him so bizarre on stage (see the video "Here are the Young Men"). I have grown up and for the most part still wondered about these unanswered questions. I hoped that reading Deborah's book would help me understand a bit more and I was not disappointed. The book was not about the music, but about the man, his dreams and his failures. This is what we as fans did not see, we only saw this pail white man with thrashing arms singing about stuff that we did not necessarily understand, but knew he saw singing for us. Thank you Deborah for a wonderful insight into your life with Ian Curtis. Hopefully he can now rest in peace.
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By A Customer on February 20, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Deborah Curtis certainly takes much of the luster off of thisextraordinary artist. Getting away from the "he said, shesaid" banter that dominates most of these reviews, she does make clear something none of the myth-makers has given enough attention to: Ian Curtis was suffering from a very serious neurological illness, and no one surrounding him in the music business was taking this enough into account, either before or after his suicide. When you and others don't understand the extent and scope of your illness, it leads to feelings of failure and despair. The combination of his illness and the drugs he was on would be enough to drive anyone over the edge, with or without a "Bizarre Love Triangle." I know whereof I speak, because I also have a neuroligical illness and have taken some of the same powerful medications prescribed for epilepsy. Ian was pushed beyond his limits by his "adoring" manager and sometimes bullied by his bandmates for his inevitable collapses.
There may be many things Deborah didn't understand about her husband, but in all fairness, he got what he asked for in a wife. Women's lib hadn't reached the outskirts of Manchester in the early seventies, apparently, and Ian falls firmly into the retro male chauvinist pig category, despite his forays into eye shadow and fluffy pink funfur jackets. (Her first description of seeing him looking out over the wasteland below his housing project, thus attired screams out for film treatment.) The dead-end jobs, the stifling working class mores, the getting married straight from home is all too depressingly reminiscent of the lives of some of my own relatives. Listening to Joy Divisions music it's easy to read a more sophisticated backdrop into it.
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