In Touching From a Distance, Deborah Curtis retells the life of her husband, Ian Curtis - the lead singer and founder of the British punk band Joy Division. Deborah chronically Ian's tragically short life from childhood antics, to secondary school indifference and the start of his obsessions with striking it big and dying young. Curtis, with the help of quotes from several others paints a picture of a man determined to be a legend.
I started Touching from a Distance with no idea who Ian Curtis or Joy Division were. This was one of several assigned readings for this semester that I was more than a little skeptical about, particularly because it was a biography of someone I'd never heard of. I was surprised with how interested I became in Ian's life. Even ignoring his fame, Ian Curtis lead an interesting life. He was a smart kid who was obsessed with music. Deborah makes sure her voice is heard in every pages. She tries to give Ian a sympathetic audience but his controlling behavior, apparent schizophrenia, and inability to see how his antics effect those closest to him makes Ian more of a monster than helpless angel. It is obvious that Deborah loved her husband, even through his affair. In more ways than not this is her story as well. Her early life is so intertwined with his that it leaves the reader a chance to take sides.
I didn't many issues with Touching from a Distance. Deborah's timeline tended to move in inconsistent chunks, focusing on events that may or may not have actually been important and skimming over everything for the next several months. This happens a lot with performances. Several performances are highlighted, and there are so many that it becomes hard to keep track of venues, television personalities and groupies. My only other issue was the quotes. It is obvious that Curtis did her research, talking to everyone else involved with Ian and Joy Division. While they are informative, and sometimes refreshing to get a different perspective they often take away from the flow Curtis has created.
Overall I was very impressed. Though I'd love to hear what actual Joy Division fans thought of the biography.