Of all the books to have been written about Tony Wilson and the Factory story this is the first, certainly since the release of 24 Hour Party People, to avoid being either congratulatory or patronising towards its subject. Nolan, who is emerging as a specialist in writing ordinary books about extra-ordinary people, manages to convey admiration for the diverse and unusual work of Tony without sitting in judgement. The facts are crammed into this richly-researched work, presented chronologically and plainly with a few well-placed quotes from Tony, key figures in his life and Nolan himself.
Nolan's career and social life brought him close enough to Tony and his work for him to be well-informed, but he is unfazed by the notoriety and legend. At the end of Chapter 3, a brief and painful moment where Nolan becomes one with the tale, the author resists the temptation to have the last word.
Nolan appears to be the only person in Manchester who doesn't have an opinion on Tony Bloody Wilson, but makes no secret of his dislike of one of the other characters in the tale. A cutting jibe in the helpful Where Are They Now section provides the best of a laugh out loud moment in a book-long campaign that reminded me of the Horoscopes in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (which you should also read).
The best of Factory's work was like a succession of little secrets that you were the first to hear. You will feel like you are the first person to read this book; there is certainly no sign that anybody proof-read it. The final 30 pages are given over to a make-weight Factory Discography and there's a page of references where Nolan helpfully recommends that you read his other books. There's a thoughtful selection of photographs in the middle and 25p from each copy sold goes to the Christie charity so buy your own rather than borrowing it.
Essential reading for anyone who's interested.