Chapter And Verse by Bernard Sumner (5 out of 5)
I love New Order. I also love Joy Division. In true fashion, I got into New Order first, then Joy Division. But they both continue to appeal and inspire me at different points in my life. They also appeal to different mood sets- New Order the lighter, more optimistic side; Joy Division the more introspective, darker side. Having read both of Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner’s books, I’d have to say that same credo applies to the two books; Peter Hook would be the Joy Division, Bernard Sumner would be the New Order. That sentence in itself sounds odd! When I read Hook’s book a year ago, I kept thinking that I would like to hear another side of the Joy Division story. A year later, here’s Bernard’s book. The book, by the way, comes out on November 3, 2015, brought to us by the folks at Thomas Dunne Books (also an imprint of St. Martin Books). I would like to personally thank Karlyn Hixson for sending me not one, but TWO, ARC’s of this title (one for me, one for my lucky bookseller). She didn’t forget about me, even though it was months from when I contacted her and the ARC’s came in.
Bernard has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. In the history of Joy Division and New Order, there has been a lot of ups and downs. He presents his memories in a clear, objective way. Never once during the reading of his book did I stop and think, “Man, this guy has a bone to pick”. NOT ONCE. I cannot say that for Peter Hook’s book, however. That book was hard to read because Hooky has a way of referring to himself in the third person. What the hell? The entire book. Bernard refers to himself in the correct tense. It’s very disconcerting to read a book about someone in which they use third person narrative all the way through. You hear that, Hooky? Also, calling yourself by that nickname all the way through the book is a little distracting. Bernard does refer to Hook as “Hooky”, but since they were friends as lads growing up and he knew him over thirty years, it’s ok. But he didn’t use it obsessively, where you’re annoyed as all hell reading it. Hook’s book? If you’ve read it, you know what I mean. Here’s what I really enjoyed about Bernard’s book: EVERYTHING. It was a simply told, no apologies, no pissing around the bush, story of a lifetime loving and making music. In the end, it’s all about the music. I finished this book and that’s what transcended to me. This man LOVES and LIVES to make music. Those along for the ride, including the reader, come away from this with that crystal clear. Sumner doesn’t give us a lot of his personal life, but he does mention his family here and there, but it’s mostly about the music. I have mad respect for people who don’t put every little detail in their memoirs. If you don’t feel like putting your family’s business out there, kudos to you! That’s the way it should be. You’ve likely noticed this review has mentioned Bernard and Peter as opposites, and it’s only brought into the review because I believe a good many people are itching to hear the story of what happened between those two that led to Hook’s leaving New Order. Bernard certainly addresses it, but with a modicum of mad respect for all that Hook has given to the stories of Joy Division and New Order. You can also sense his bewilderment at what happened with Hook, and some sadness. That certainly goes a longer way with me than sour grapes do. I’ll happily recommend and hopefully sell the hell out of this book when it’s released in November. It far surpasses my expectations of what it was going to bring to the table, as far as autobiographies go. Well done, Mr. Sumner.