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Torn Apart: The Life of Ian Curtis [Paperback]

Mick and Reade, Lindsay Middles
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.95
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Book Description

5 May 2009
This is the b format edition of the critically acclaimed biography. Cloaked in mystique, Joy Division's extraordinary vocalist Ian Curtis tragically took his own life in 1980, leaving just two haunting albums an a depleted band that would famously evolve into New Order. In this in-depth biography of the late singer, the authors have gained exclusive access to Ian Curtis's family and many others close to him. Mick Middles was the first journalist to interview Joy Division for the music press and formed a close association with the band that continues to this day.

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Torn Apart: The Life of Ian Curtis + Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis & Joy Division + Control [DVD]
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Product details

  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Omnibus Press; 3rd Revised edition edition (5 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847725082
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847725080
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 12.7 x 19.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 238,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Walk in Silence 1 Jun 2010
With the thirtieth anniversary of Ian Curtis's suicide (he killed himself on May 18th 1980) just gone, enough time had passed for me to want to read an account of the exceptionally talented Joy Division frontsman's life. Like many who were involved in the music business in 1980, I had not played Unknown Pleasures since Curtis's death as it was just too harrowing. Not that I ever knew or even met Curtis. I saw them live in London's Lyceum in February 1980, and was a big fan of their music, but for me, Curtis remained a shadowy figure - an enigmatic performer whose crazed trapped moth dance mesmerised; a haunting poet whose lyrics and songs could raise goosebumps; and a man with many personal problems including severe epilepsy and a complicated home life.

Still, even not having met him, listening to the music of Joy Division after his death was upsetting. With the wisdom that hindsight brings, his lyrics were traumatically prescient, telling of a despair that would see him take the only way out when he was still in his early twenties. Plus anyone who wrote for the music press in that era knew of at least one rock 'n' roll suicide of a close friend or relative, and Joy Division's powerful music and searingly tortured vocals just brought back too many memories.

Before I start the review of this book, which was first published in 2006 and reprinted in 2009, I should add that I don't know either author, and have only met the Omnibus publisher, Chris Charlesworth once, for five minutes or so, when delivering an Ian McEwan t shirt he'd won on this blog to his office. I pointed at this book on his shelf and asked him about it; he generously told me I could have it (not knowing that I'd go on to review it), and that was it. I was hooked.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Myth Continues Growing... 22 Jun 2010
The fascination with both Joy division and the legendary figure of vocalist Ian Curtis seems to show no sign of wavering. If anything, their modest but highly influential records and Curtis's almost hypnotic style has become increasingly revered as time goes on.
This book does a very fine job of charting the development of Joy Division's music whilst focusing on their singer's troubled persona.
Detailed, exhaustive and utterly compelling stuff.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This and that. 15 Nov 2013
The comment on here by school friend Alan Firkins, wanted to say that was nice to read. I've no doubt you'll see him again somewhere, someplace. Until then, at least you have such fond memories.


Obsessions ebb and flow. I am a little bit obsessed with Joy Division and the rather enigmatic Ian Curtis this past month, so I've been getting my hands on anything I can. This book being one of those items, and Deborah Curtis' book being another. I wanted to read them back-to-back, make comparisons, get two perspectives. Torn Apart: The Life of Ian Curtis is the combined effort of Mick Middles (first journalist to interview JD) and Lindsay Reade (first wife to Tony Wilson, thus meaning she was around while history was being written). They were able to interview an array of people and gather a reasonable sum of information. It's a good book, quite solid, well compiled and presented, featuring three sections of photo illustrations. Indeed there were a few grammatical errors scattered throughout, enough to keep you grammar nazis on the edge of your seats. I don't have any criticism to give, though I should note that it focused slightly more on the band than Ian, leaving him still very much in the dark, shrouded in mystery. But this does balance in the later chapters. In my opinion, both this and Touching From A Distance are necessary to create a clearer picture. You'll want to weigh both sides of the story, be fair, and make up your own mind. Torn Apart paints an image of a thoughtful, quiet, determined individual - 'one of the lads' - with the obvious problems that he had to face. Whereas Debbie's book shows him in a jarringly different light. This is to be expected. It's personal, it's real, plagued with emotions, buried and on the surface. Debbie was exposed to him on a level that no one else could be. Both perspectives are biased. The truth is somewhere in between.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When the artist is the art ! 15 Feb 2013
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Ian Curtis was an amazing artist because, unlike many manufactured artists, HE WAS HIS ART.
The story is tragic.
Ian had a lot to deal with in his short life.
Mostly because he was, obviously, a lovely warm caring soul who was " torn apart " by his conscience and his inability to escape his demons and cope with his epilepsy.
This book is a must read for all Joy Division fans and, indeed, fans of great artists.
I thought I knew most of the story.
I have always been a huge Joy Division fan and still adore their work.
This book, though, gave me more insight into the life and, perhaps, the mind of a frustrated genius.
It is a great read.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My pal Hammy - I wish we could have a catch-up. 30 Sep 2010
An excellent read, frankly, and as one close to the action for the earlier part of Ian's life, a faithful representation of an all too brief, but ultimately in retrospect stellar career. Ian and I went to primary school together - walking home was great fun, as we made up fantastical tales of spacemen, alien invaders, long-lost Amazon tribes and all manner of nonsense, illuminating immeasurably the stroll to our homes - Ian in Balmoral Crescent and then me at Delamere Drive, in Hurdsfield. It was with my family that Ian came on holiday to Anglesey - I have photos of us playing football on Benllech beach, and posing self-consciously outside a caravan - and I note that later in his short life he was to revisit that lovely part of Wales. Then it was off to senior school - King's in Macclesfield - where we stayed close until perhaps we were 14 or so, wherupon I had my soccer and rugby dominated life, and he developed his esoteric side so productively. I reckon he'd have given it all up to be able to play footie like Franny Lee (only jesting), but that was never to be. He was all elbows and knobbly knees in a footballing sense, I recall, but what a fine pal he was. I so wish he was around now, a grand and reverred figure, so I could have a catch-up with my old mate. Natter about the dreaded 'Impetigo' (not just a skin complaint in our primary school imagination - no, a race of invaders from outer space no less); and of course reflect how some of the biggest names around credit him fondly with influencing their careers. Ian's Mum Doreen evidently kindly recalled me, because I feature in the book a couple of times. If any of the family are reading this - sister Carole perhaps ('Cag,' as Ian called you)- then I cordially send very best wishes from an old friend, who misses his friend. Very much.
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