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Mr Manchester and the Factory Girl: The Story of Tony and Lindsay Wilson Paperback – 1 Sep 2010
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About the Author
Lindsay Reade was Tony Wilson s first wife. She worked at the renowned Factory Records, and also managed the Stone Roses. She has previously co-written the book Torn Apart: The Life of Ian Curtis. She lives in Manchester.
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For readers interested in Factory Records and the 1970s-80s Manchester music scene more broadly, this book is a treasure.
Reade is a gifted author who writes sensitively and perceptively about others and their interactions, as well as offering candid reflections on her own life and work. Inevitably, Wilson's gigantic personality dominates much of the book, and here is the most rounded and human depiction of him to appear in print. However, central Factory personalities who, in other publications, are slightly marginalised, receive due attention here, particularly Alan Erasmus, Bruce Mitchell and Vini Reilly.
Although Wilson and Reade divorced in the 1980s, they remained close friends until Wilson's death in 2007. Much of the book concerns his final year, and Reade movingly details how she, along with Mitchell, Reilly and Erasmus, supported Wilson closely through his illness. While often highly emotional, the writing remains controlled. The sheer chaos of Factory's existence also ensures plenty of humour.
I read this book purely out of interest and was moved. I later completed an academic piece on Factory Records and Reade's book was indispensable. However, for others reading this book for research purposes, a note of warning: it's worth making notes as you go along, because there is no index and the chapters do not follow a strict chronological order. I had to read it in full a second time for that purpose. Doing so was, again, a pleasure, as well as an insight: not just because the book is so rich in music history, but because its reflections on love and friendship seem so, well, wise.
The book covers Reade's on/off relationship with Tony Wilson which would normally put me off as I was really interested in the Manchester music scene. But I was wrong, it is wonderfully written, very touching and really gives an insight into the real workings of Tony Wilson (and Reade as well). You get also get to know the dysfunctional family that was Factory records and its (un)working practices. Though the book reads as a memoir/biography (with, I guess, extensive use of her diary's) Reade also interviews many of those in the inner circle of the Manchester scene. This really shines a useful light on the differing opinions and is even used to contradict how Reade saw events.
Its a brutally honest book with the sought of detail and intimacy I've never seen in a 'music' book. Reade makes me laugh and despair and is never afraid to point out where she was wrong. She also has a few crazy idea's and occasional spark of arrogance but these just make the book more endearing. The review by James Patrick McGrath puts it better than I can and is spot on.
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