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Porcelain: A Memoir

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From one of the most interesting and iconic musicians of our time, a piercingly tender, funny, and harrowing account of the path from suburban poverty and alienation to a life of beauty, squalor and unlikely success out of the NYC club scene of the late '80s and '90s. There were many reasons Moby was never going to make it as a DJ and musician in the New York club scene. From one of the most interesting and iconic musicians of our time, a piercingly tender, funny, and harrowing account of the path from suburban poverty and alienation to a life of beauty, squalor and unlikely success out of the NYC club scene of the late '80s and '90s. There were many reasons Moby was never going to make it as a DJ and musician in the New York club scene. This was the New York of Palladium; of Mars, Limelight, and Twilo; of unchecked, drug-fueled hedonism in pumping clubs where dance music was still largely underground, popular chiefly among working-class African Americans and Latinos. And then there was Moby--not just a poor, skinny white kid from Connecticut, but a devout Christian, a vegan, and a teetotaler. He would learn what it was to be spat on, to live on almost nothing. But it was perhaps the last good time for an artist to live on nothing in New York City: the age of AIDS and crack but also of a defiantly festive cultural underworld. Not without drama, he found his way. But success was not uncomplicated; it led to wretched, if in hindsight sometimes hilarious, excess and proved all too fleeting. And so by the end of the decade, Moby contemplated an end in his career and elsewhere in his life, and put that emotion into what he assumed would be his swan song, his good-bye to all that, the album that would in fact be the beginning of an astonishing new phase: the multimillion-selling Play. At once bighearted and remorseless in its excavation of a lost world, Porcelain is both a chronicle of a city and a time and a deeply intimate exploration of finding one's place during the most gloriously anxious period in life, when you're on your own, betting on yourself, but have no idea how the story ends, and so you live with the honest dread that you're one false step from being thrown out on your face. Moby's voice resonates with honesty, wit, and, above all, an unshakable passion for his music that steered him through some very rough seas. Porcelain is about making it, losing it, loving it, and hating it. It's about finding your people, your place, thinking you've lost them both, and then, somehow, when you think it's over, from a place of well-earned despair, creating a masterpiece. As a portrait of the young artist, Porcelain is a masterpiece in its own right, fit for the short shelf of musicians' memoirs that capture not just a scene but an age, and something timeless about the human condition. Push play.


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From one of the most interesting and iconic musicians of our time, a piercingly tender, funny, and harrowing account of the path from suburban poverty and alienation to a life of beauty, squalor and unlikely success out of the NYC club scene of the late '80s and '90s. There were many reasons Moby was never going to make it as a DJ and musician in the New York club scene. From one of the most interesting and iconic musicians of our time, a piercingly tender, funny, and harrowing account of the path from suburban poverty and alienation to a life of beauty, squalor and unlikely success out of the NYC club scene of the late '80s and '90s. There were many reasons Moby was never going to make it as a DJ and musician in the New York club scene. This was the New York of Palladium; of Mars, Limelight, and Twilo; of unchecked, drug-fueled hedonism in pumping clubs where dance music was still largely underground, popular chiefly among working-class African Americans and Latinos. And then there was Moby--not just a poor, skinny white kid from Connecticut, but a devout Christian, a vegan, and a teetotaler. He would learn what it was to be spat on, to live on almost nothing. But it was perhaps the last good time for an artist to live on nothing in New York City: the age of AIDS and crack but also of a defiantly festive cultural underworld. Not without drama, he found his way. But success was not uncomplicated; it led to wretched, if in hindsight sometimes hilarious, excess and proved all too fleeting. And so by the end of the decade, Moby contemplated an end in his career and elsewhere in his life, and put that emotion into what he assumed would be his swan song, his good-bye to all that, the album that would in fact be the beginning of an astonishing new phase: the multimillion-selling Play. At once bighearted and remorseless in its excavation of a lost world, Porcelain is both a chronicle of a city and a time and a deeply intimate exploration of finding one's place during the most gloriously anxious period in life, when you're on your own, betting on yourself, but have no idea how the story ends, and so you live with the honest dread that you're one false step from being thrown out on your face. Moby's voice resonates with honesty, wit, and, above all, an unshakable passion for his music that steered him through some very rough seas. Porcelain is about making it, losing it, loving it, and hating it. It's about finding your people, your place, thinking you've lost them both, and then, somehow, when you think it's over, from a place of well-earned despair, creating a masterpiece. As a portrait of the young artist, Porcelain is a masterpiece in its own right, fit for the short shelf of musicians' memoirs that capture not just a scene but an age, and something timeless about the human condition. Push play.

30 review for Porcelain: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Masterson

    *This is a re-read. The sequel to Porcelain is coming out on May 2nd.* Yay! I'd give Moby's memoir "Porcelain" 10 Stars if I could! This book is raw, real, honest and it made me feel. That's right! This is another book with all the feels!!! I had no idea what an impact this book was going to have on me. It packed a punch. One that I will never forget! The book is broken down into 5 parts between the years of 1989 and 1999. It begins in Stamford, Connecticut. Moby is a passionate musician living in *This is a re-read. The sequel to Porcelain is coming out on May 2nd.* Yay! I'd give Moby's memoir "Porcelain" 10 Stars if I could! This book is raw, real, honest and it made me feel. That's right! This is another book with all the feels!!! I had no idea what an impact this book was going to have on me. It packed a punch. One that I will never forget! The book is broken down into 5 parts between the years of 1989 and 1999. It begins in Stamford, Connecticut. Moby is a passionate musician living in an abandoned factory. He is also a Sober Vegan Christian from a poor background teaching Bible Study to rich kids in Connecticut. Moby goes from an aspiring musician to a successful musician to having much bleaker times in his career. His album Animal Rights was actually his "Big White Whale". During the middle of the book Moby gives up 8 years of sobriety and goes down a very very dark path of alcoholism and meaningless sex in public bathrooms with strippers and even one of Heidi Fleiss's call girls. Some of the book is so crazy that you couldn't make it up if you tried!!! Moby is refreshing, candid, funny and sad. There were times I laughed so hard I was snorting. There were also times I felt such sadness for him that I cried and just wanted to give him a hug. "Porcelain: A Memoir" turned out to be a very special book for me. Not because Moby and I are from the same part of Connecticut, not because I love animals, not because I love his music, but because I suffer from panic disorder. It's a tough subject to talk about, but he addresses it from his first panic attack in college, to getting panic attacks again years later while making the album Animal Rights, to panicking while on vacation in Barbados and feeling a need to flee the Island. This book is so raw that I could actually feel his angst when he was talking about his hotel in Barbados. I would have fled, too! He just shows such sincere honesty! I listened to the audio version of this book. I highly recommend this version. Listening to Moby read his memoir made it all that more real. I listened to this book faster than I would have binged a season of one of my favorite shows on Netflix!!! Highly highly recommended!!!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Meike

    In the late 90's, when Moby rose to fame, I was underage, and of course sneaking into clubs and concert venues, mostly to see punk bands; but when, for some reason, my friends dragged me to a rave, I looked at those people wearing wide pants (often in a mean orange or furry with cow print) and tiny neon shirts, lifting their glow sticks, and I thought: WTF? Yes, I admit to it: I'm hailing from the country of Stockhausen, Kraftwerk and Westbam, and I always thought techno is terrible. No Berghain In the late 90's, when Moby rose to fame, I was underage, and of course sneaking into clubs and concert venues, mostly to see punk bands; but when, for some reason, my friends dragged me to a rave, I looked at those people wearing wide pants (often in a mean orange or furry with cow print) and tiny neon shirts, lifting their glow sticks, and I thought: WTF? Yes, I admit to it: I'm hailing from the country of Stockhausen, Kraftwerk and Westbam, and I always thought techno is terrible. No Berghain for me, thanks a lot. But the fact that I'm a brute when it comes to electronica doesn't mean that I have no respect for artists making electronic music, and Moby certainly is an interesting guy. In "Porcelain" (of course named after this track: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13Eif...), he tells his coming-of-age story as a musician, and it's a tale that can only be set in the US: What it means to be born to a poor hippie mother in the States, the way he lives his Christianity when he starts out his career (from a European perspective, this is hardcore), the club scene in New York, his first travels to Europe - all of these things are major parts of his memoir. In comparison, he doesn't talk much about the composition and production process - this is not mainly a book about music, but more about the artist as a person. I recently read Moby's follow-up, Then It Fell Apart, which is a way better book, both regarding the writing and the degree of openness to which Moby dares to rise. "Porcelain" suffers from its sometimes a little simplistic language, and the naiveté Moby exposes tends to feel a little manipulative from time to time (but maybe that's just my own cynicism speaking :-)). Still, I started to feel and root for this guy, although I believe that he and I are VERY different people (which is no judgement, just a fact) - it certainly speaks for the book if it allows a reader to empathize with someone who feels far away in many respects. I listened to the audiobook, parts read in English by Moby himself, parts read in German by Austrian actor Robert Stadlober, and both of them do a wonderful job. In fact, "Porcelain" even made me listen to some Moby tracks , which means that there must be something to this memoir! :-)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    Listening to "Play"and "18" while reading this book added a new layer to my appreciation of his music. Moby writes, before he begins working on "Play": "All I had hoped for ten years earlier was to be able to live in New York City...maybe release a couple of dance singles...I'd traveled the world...stood on stage in front of thousands of people...if this was the end of my career, that was okay. I'd had a remarkable and unexpected run." But only after this ten year run does his career reach Listening to "Play"and "18" while reading this book added a new layer to my appreciation of his music. Moby writes, before he begins working on "Play": "All I had hoped for ten years earlier was to be able to live in New York City...maybe release a couple of dance singles...I'd traveled the world...stood on stage in front of thousands of people...if this was the end of my career, that was okay. I'd had a remarkable and unexpected run." But only after this ten year run does his career reach worldwide stardom. Towards the end of this book, when he tells us about the writing of a few of the songs on "Play", it is as beautiful and fascinating as when William Finnegan tells us about the best waves he surfed in his autobiography, "Barbarian Days." "Porcelain" is a beautiful work: honest, heartfelt and graphic (both in words and photos). Salman Rushdie writes, in a blurb on the book jacket, that this book is "...full of spit and semen and some sort of Christianity..." so let that serve as a warning of sorts, as Moby holds absolutely nothing back. This is by far my favorite biography of this year.

  4. 4 out of 5

    John Lamb

    This book is 400 pages (and it stops in 1999) and could have benefited from being about 399 pages shorter. Mainly just vignettes of him getting drunk. No real in-depth discussion about the process of composing. If you want to read about Moby having sex with a woman openly in club full of drag queens or see a photograph of him peeing, then this might be your dreams come true. Also, the fact that Play is built upon the bones of 20th century African-American musicians in field recordings and never This book is 400 pages (and it stops in 1999) and could have benefited from being about 399 pages shorter. Mainly just vignettes of him getting drunk. No real in-depth discussion about the process of composing. If you want to read about Moby having sex with a woman openly in club full of drag queens or see a photograph of him peeing, then this might be your dreams come true. Also, the fact that Play is built upon the bones of 20th century African-American musicians in field recordings and never once mentions in the book the process or admiration he had for these artists is the very definition of white privilege.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    The electronic muscian Moby writes a memoir which I loved for many reasons. NOSTALGIA:Moby is from CT and so am I, we attended UCONN at the same time, and he lived in the same East Village neighborhood a decade after I did. HUMBLE: Moby is a famous musician but he details his meteoric rise and subsequent falls in a straight forward unassuming manner. He seems like a regular guy CONUNDRUM: Moby the veganarian is a sometime Christian teetotaler who strives to stay celibate but hangs out at Raves The electronic muscian Moby writes a memoir which I loved for many reasons. NOSTALGIA:Moby is from CT and so am I, we attended UCONN at the same time, and he lived in the same East Village neighborhood a decade after I did. HUMBLE: Moby is a famous musician but he details his meteoric rise and subsequent falls in a straight forward unassuming manner. He seems like a regular guy CONUNDRUM: Moby the veganarian is a sometime Christian teetotaler who strives to stay celibate but hangs out at Raves amongst the drug addled and often falls prey to the allure of alcohol and one night stands. NO NEED FOR A GHOST WRITER: Moby’s descriptions of the music scene, his childhood, being homeless, his quest for love, and the joys of playing music for sweaty revelers are stellar. NO COMPLAINTS: Moby grew up poor, had an unavailable mother, suffers from panic attacks, and is an alcoholic. He describes all this without judgment or grievance. CAVEAT If you are unfamiliar with Moby’s music scene you may find this book alien and uninteresting. I admit to being a tad bored with yet another Rave description in the middle of the book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Montulli

    Last night I gave this memoir 4 stars because I was too programmed for a harbinger to understand that Moby was not going to take me where I was expecting. And then this morning, I realized, that is the essence of the memoir. Moby dropped me into his world during the decade of 1989-1999, while he was living in a violent, drug-fueled and filthy New York City. He then spit me out on the curb exhausted, frustrated, sad, anxious and ultimately, hopeful. I lived inside his head for that decade and sped Last night I gave this memoir 4 stars because I was too programmed for a harbinger to understand that Moby was not going to take me where I was expecting. And then this morning, I realized, that is the essence of the memoir. Moby dropped me into his world during the decade of 1989-1999, while he was living in a violent, drug-fueled and filthy New York City. He then spit me out on the curb exhausted, frustrated, sad, anxious and ultimately, hopeful. I lived inside his head for that decade and sped alongside his haphazard musical journey to the bass line of unyielding veganism and a quest for meaningful love. Moby does not flinch with his account of creating music, sobriety, falling off the wagon, sex, poverty, failure and wanting to be understood. It is a journey that left me desperately wanting to find relief with his ultimate stardom, but instead really made me understand him more for not giving it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    I didn't like this book nearly as much as the masses, and it's not because I don't love Moby, I like him enough, and I've been to enough Raves, and can appreciate electronic music to get it. I also appreciate that he penned his memoir and it was not co-written by anyone. Turns out he is a thoughtful, clear and introspective writer. What I didn't like about this book was the mundane, day to day recollection of every club he DJ-ed in, every vegan restaurant he ate in, and every chick he banged I didn't like this book nearly as much as the masses, and it's not because I don't love Moby, I like him enough, and I've been to enough Raves, and can appreciate electronic music to get it. I also appreciate that he penned his memoir and it was not co-written by anyone. Turns out he is a thoughtful, clear and introspective writer. What I didn't like about this book was the mundane, day to day recollection of every club he DJ-ed in, every vegan restaurant he ate in, and every chick he banged when he was drunk or high. I would have liked to read more about his music and influences. "Animal Rights", bombed, and "Play" was the album that turned everything around for him, so I wanted to know what it was that influenced this musical redemption. It felt like the last quarter of the book was missing.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    5 stars!!!!! This deserves all the high praises, incredibly well written memoir. I devoured every word. I knew about Moby through his music but nothing else about him really. The mood he captures around the emerging electronic and rave music scene in the early 90's, about his beloved New York..feels like I'm walking it with him, the grimy underworld of nightclubs is so vividly described here. Moby is a unique guy that defies the stereotypes in the music industry, his devotion to veganism, 5 stars!!!!! This deserves all the high praises, incredibly well written memoir. I devoured every word. I knew about Moby through his music but nothing else about him really. The mood he captures around the emerging electronic and rave music scene in the early 90's, about his beloved New York..feels like I'm walking it with him, the grimy underworld of nightclubs is so vividly described here. Moby is a unique guy that defies the stereotypes in the music industry, his devotion to veganism, (mostly) sober living, animal rights and welfare is admirable, especially as he is surrounded by such a drug addled culture. He really keeps true to himself. I love Moby's self deprecating wit not afraid to lay bare his many foibles and neurosis. It goes to show that most creative types are usually riddled with insecurities and doubts which usually further enhances ones creativity, some of the passages are quite sad, the immense poverty, the loneliness the lack of hygiene made me squirm and I thought I had it tough! As much as I loved this book it falls short as in it didn't explore enough of his later more recent successes of him actually making it big in the music world, I thought he could have explored the later stuff further and maybe have condensed some earlier recollections to fit it all in, hopefully this could mean a further publication and I for one would be first in line to read more from this incredibly talented musician and now talented writer. Oh how I enjoyed your narcissistic time travel Moby! Please sir I want some more

  9. 5 out of 5

    Katee

    hmm.. well, he is a good writer, although it needed a lot of editing (there are a lot of repetitive sentences and thoughts), but I'm not quite sure what the point of this was - it ends before the high parts of his career, and there were several parts of it where he seemed like an adolescent boy showing off his indiscretions.

  10. 5 out of 5

    JC

    Moby is a good writer, but he really could have ised a better editor. Some things to know about Moby: he is a vegan, he's really judgy, he's a vegan, he's a Christian, he was sober and judgy, he fell off the wagon hard, and HE'S A VEGAN. I was hoping dor some insight to his music, but there is none of that. What we have is an anxiety-ridden man with seemingly little self-confidence. He over-compensates for they lack of confidence by being smug and judgemental. This book could have been a look Moby is a good writer, but he really could have ised a better editor. Some things to know about Moby: he is a vegan, he's really judgy, he's a vegan, he's a Christian, he was sober and judgy, he fell off the wagon hard, and HE'S A VEGAN. I was hoping dor some insight to his music, but there is none of that. What we have is an anxiety-ridden man with seemingly little self-confidence. He over-compensates for they lack of confidence by being smug and judgemental. This book could have been a look into why and how he made his music because of these characteristics. He could have shared his self-awareness and where it's led him instead of showing us a pic of his dick and a list of all the women he slept with and judged harshly. Disappointed, but would totally read a follow up to see if he's grown up yet.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chris Hubbs

    Vignette after vignette of a searching life. So empty. Really sad.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Bastian

    "With reluctance, I agreed. To be descended from Herman Melville and not try to write my own memoir would seem like a bit of a hereditary affront." Before launching the editor to write up this review, I checked my iTunes library and discovered that I have seven and a half hours of Moby's songs on my laptop, some of which have been played hundreds of times. As an avid listener for nearly two decades now, I knew precious little about the musician himself. I didn't know he grew up dirt poor and lived "With reluctance, I agreed. To be descended from Herman Melville and not try to write my own memoir would seem like a bit of a hereditary affront." Before launching the editor to write up this review, I checked my iTunes library and discovered that I have seven and a half hours of Moby's songs on my laptop, some of which have been played hundreds of times. As an avid listener for nearly two decades now, I knew precious little about the musician himself. I didn't know he grew up dirt poor and lived for several years out of an abandoned factory in Stamford, Connecticut with not much more to his name than some assembled DJ equipment and an electric hot plate. I didn't know that he wrestled for most of his life over what it means to be a Christian and whether he was one. I didn't know he released a punk rock album in 1996 that nearly crashed his career. Nor was I aware that he once had a full head of hair and that his losing it, along with the ebb and flow of his early musical career, persistently plagued his wavering self-image. Now I had learned that he declined the usual route of handing your story to a ghostwriter and instead chose to go it alone, earning himself a glowing blurb from none other than Salman Rushdie in the process. This 2016 memoir-cum-bildungsroman covers what I take to be the most pivotal decade of Moby's life (1989-99). It precedes his meteoric rise ushered in with the release of Play, and it was during this interval that a young, David Lynch-obsessed artist living in squalor and struggling to make ends meet put his hopeful ambition to the test. This is Moby at his most raw, the literary counterpart to the brooding lyrics and emotional vulnerability echoed throughout his diverse catalog. His anxieties, frustrations and patient reflections are all on full display, enabling a clearer image of the life and mind behind such masterpieces as "Honey," "Flower" and "Go." Today Richard Melville Hall—a patronym completely usurped by his familiar stage handle—is uncontroversially regarded, on both sides of the pond, as among the world's most influential electronic musicians. But reaching such a high point of acclaim and notoriety was hardly preordained, even for one as talented as Moby. Sure, he rubbed elbows with Dream Frequency, 808 State, Underground Resistance and other toplining acts in the thriving 90s rave scene, and later cut his teeth on international tours with the likes of Soundgarden, The Prodigy and Red Hot Chili Peppers, but his ultimate status as an industry icon was never a guarantee. The transition from quasi-homeless youth with sporadic access to running water to leading DJ for a new nightclub in the heart of Manhattan is a fascinating story in and of itself. When he caught wind of a club soon to open in the Meatpacking District, Moby scraped together the fare to make the trip from his ascetic abode in Connecticut to the anarchic streets of NYC. He waited in the long line of job-seekers, only to learn that busboys, bouncers and bartenders were being hired, not DJs. He awkwardly left his mixtape with the staff anyway. One day later, he received the call that would change his life forever. In Gotham's rave scene circa the late 80s and early 90s, Moby was as much of an outlier as ever. Electronic music was still underground, and nightclubs of the era featured dancefloors populated almost solely by African Americans, Latinos and LGBTs. Moby was none of the above. But it was here that he felt most at home, more so than with his Christian friends and at the faith-filled weekend retreats he found himself attending with his on-and-off girlfriend. The self-seeking judgment and mounting internal guilt that so engulfed his religious existence outside the club all but evaporated whilst spinning dancehall records for vibrant non-white crowds until the sun came up. It's no secret that the scent of nostalgia combined with the distance of time can cause one to idealize a complicated past. Moby attests to the dangers of living in New York City in 1989. Ravaged by AIDS and crack and gang violence, the city was infamous for the highest murder rate per capita in the country, with "teenagers running through Times Square and stabbing tourists with infected syringes," ran one story in the Post, where "kids routinely walked through the [subway] cars stabbing people and stealing their watches and wallets and chains and sneakers." Nevertheless, for Moby SoHo, with its quiet lofts and art galleries, was home, part of "a perfect city"—and where DJ genius was born. Perhaps the least surprising pivot in the book concerns his fraught relationship with alcohol and promiscuity, which marked a shift from his deacadeslong spree as a straight-edge, teetotaling animal rights activist. He never drops the veganism, of course, but as with any musical celebrity you can care to name, Moby battled with alcoholism over the years and liberally pursued a wanton sex life. He is straightforward and honest about this, never one to make excuses, even as he describes a series of bleak events in his life such as the loss of his mother and the looming dread that his career as a musician might be over. Moby never renounces his Christian faith outright in his memoir. He does, however, recount his evolving views on religion and belief in God. Growing up in youth group, he vents often about a felt incompatibility between the actions of his fellow Christians on the one hand and living what he believed to be a truly ethical life on the other—one committed to lessening the suffering of others, both of the human and nonhuman variety. He notes that reading Sartre and Camus and exposure to existentialist philosophy in college helped undermine his confidence in theistic traditions. At one point he describes a particularly resonant moment of satori in which the final vestiges of his Judeo-Christian worldview seemed to slip away, replaced by a humble sublimity that acknowledges human ignorance in the face of cosmic complexity. Closing Thoughts Moby's music has always carried with it a spark of inspiration, uniquely capable of catering to just the right mood for almost any occasion. Indeed, he's the only artist I know of whose melodies can calm as effortlessly as they can energize. Though genres and tastes evolve, his recordings, both the more ambient soundscapes as well as the pulsating dance rhythms designed to be played at deafening volumes, have remained relevant through it all. His recent memoir, by turns glum and joyous, provides an unflinching look at Moby's life as an aspiring musician navigating the bedlam of the Big Apple in the 1990s and the thought processes and influences that fed into his work. For me his origin story raised a number of intriguing questions related to determinism versus chance—namely whether Moby's success was shaped my random encounters, or whether musicians of his caliber and in possession of his talents were always destined for greatness at the outset. (I'd be curious to hear other's thoughts on this question.) But in the end, Porcelain is a brooding, anxious, frequently insightful memoir that commemorates an intimate period in the life of a brilliant artist whose timeless music continues to inspire generations of fans around the world. Note: This review is republished from my official website.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    Within the first few chapters of this book, I thought to myself "Wow, Moby is dreadfully earnest" (This didn't really surprise me, he wears his convictions on his sleeve within both print and social media, which I have always appreciated about him). He is also dreadfully honest throughout the entirety of this memoir. From living in near squalor in an abandoned factory to living in weird, uncomfortable excess, Moby lays out his truth for the world to see. As a fan of his music I had known a Within the first few chapters of this book, I thought to myself "Wow, Moby is dreadfully earnest" (This didn't really surprise me, he wears his convictions on his sleeve within both print and social media, which I have always appreciated about him). He is also dreadfully honest throughout the entirety of this memoir. From living in near squalor in an abandoned factory to living in weird, uncomfortable excess, Moby lays out his truth for the world to see. As a fan of his music I had known a little bit about the depths of his lows (I'll never forget hearing "Southside" for the first time and being totally mystified at age 15, watching Señor Moby's House of Music late at night on MTV as he played Joy Division and Massive Attach music videos during a half hour block every week, listening to his album "Animal Rights" on headphones during lunch breaks in 11th grade, getting "18" on the day it came out and being too excited at the local Target). However, his descriptions of some of his debauchery took my breath away: not because he was actively bragging, or even apologizing - because his writing is so conversational you feel like a friend is confiding in you about their worst acts. When I finished the book last night, I was pretty bummed out. It was a little bit like saying goodbye over the phone to a friend who lives thousands of miles away.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mary E. Gilmore

    First, a huge thank you to Penguin Press for the giveaway that ended with this jewel in my mailbox. Raw. Hilarious. Harrowing. I couldn't put this one down. Moby is an exceptional writer and shares the good, bad, and ugly with unflinching honesty. The journey he has taken from suburban poverty and alienation to create music that has lifted my spirits during some dark times, is quite remarkable. I especially loved reading a bit about my hometown. Yep, this Cleveland girl loves that his first US First, a huge thank you to Penguin Press for the giveaway that ended with this jewel in my mailbox. Raw. Hilarious. Harrowing. I couldn't put this one down. Moby is an exceptional writer and shares the good, bad, and ugly with unflinching honesty. The journey he has taken from suburban poverty and alienation to create music that has lifted my spirits during some dark times, is quite remarkable. I especially loved reading a bit about my hometown. Yep, this Cleveland girl loves that his first US gig not in NY or Cali was in the Flats. Fingers crossed that his book signing tour brings him back to the 216. 5/5!stars.

  15. 4 out of 5

    P

    Moby is much funnier than expected, in a winkingly petulant kind of way. Tons of great anecdotes here for those into early 90s New York rave tunes. Less surprising: a scion of Melville, the Voodoo Child is an excellent writer, and adeptly makes the descents into punk, alcoholism, bad relationships, Christianity, and veganism charming.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Roberth

    This book is hard to put down for longer than it takes to brew a pot of tea and run out and buy a pack of vegan cookies... If you've ever listened to a Moby song on the radio and enjoyed it, or if you like me are one of the anomalies of the world that bought and actually loved 'Animal Rights', go read this one - it will not disappoint. I laughed, I shed a tear, I smiled smugly, and I revisited the entire back catalog of his musical works as I let his writing take me back to mud covered European This book is hard to put down for longer than it takes to brew a pot of tea and run out and buy a pack of vegan cookies... If you've ever listened to a Moby song on the radio and enjoyed it, or if you like me are one of the anomalies of the world that bought and actually loved 'Animal Rights', go read this one - it will not disappoint. I laughed, I shed a tear, I smiled smugly, and I revisited the entire back catalog of his musical works as I let his writing take me back to mud covered European festivals, carry me through euphoric underground warehouse raves, and experience a NYC I was too young to ever have been able to be a part of even if I would have been born there...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I'm sorry - I was never a fan of Moby's music but this memoir is damn entertaining and well-written. I heard him speak about it on a few podcasts and my curiosity was picqued. The book is a fascinating account of the New York house music scene of the 90s and the birth (and death) of raverdom. Couldn't put it down.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    This memoir traces the familiar arc of the artist- it may feel too familiar to be believed, actually- but anyone with a creative impulse can probably identify with the difficulty and (occasional) pleasure of working hard at your craft, of truly wanting something you’re working on to be perfect and complete (maybe not in that order), and feeling that its completion is dependent not on your will but on something outside yourself, something possibly mystical that either bestows itself on you or This memoir traces the familiar arc of the artist- it may feel too familiar to be believed, actually- but anyone with a creative impulse can probably identify with the difficulty and (occasional) pleasure of working hard at your craft, of truly wanting something you’re working on to be perfect and complete (maybe not in that order), and feeling that its completion is dependent not on your will but on something outside yourself, something possibly mystical that either bestows itself on you or doesn’t. Creating something that moves you and others, and then being able to make money off of your hard work? Well, that’s where Moby and most of us part ways. One thing that struck me was his almost total lack of introspection about why he makes music, although that’s not necessarily a criticism- maybe that lack of introspection is part of what allows him to do it. I did have a difficult time with his sentimentality and the easy, self-deprecating humor about things like his receding hairline (it’s mentioned not just once or twice, but quite often). This is the sort of humor that you (or I, at least) might use at uncomfortable social gatherings where you don’t feel like opening up to the people around you, and whose real motive is to present yourself to others as modest and sympathetic; but a memoir should probably be the opposite of that. Lest anyone think I’m being insensitive, I first realized I was losing my hair at the age of nineteen; worse things can happen. There are a few good anecdotes- like the one about the roommate who not only threatens to kill him in his sleep (that’s common enough when people live together, in my experience), but actually goes out and buys the can of gasoline with which he intends to burn Moby alive- and more than a few, often about playing a show at this or that club in New York, that I found blended together. Maybe part of my boredom with these scenes was simply that the pleasure of listening to music is hard for anyone to describe in words. I liked the second half of the memoir- in which he falls off the wagon and loses his religion (he sure does look like Michael Stipe, doesn’t he?)- much better. It seems to me that most art benefits from an artist’s understanding first-hand addiction, doubt and weakness- as a person, of course, you suffer. But it certainly made his memoir more interesting, and it seems to have been good for his art as well. Why do I say that? Because the book compelled me to listen to Play, the album he created soon after, and I think it’s great. In fact I like it so much that it's hard to reconcile the memoir with the music. Here’s a song I can’t stop listening to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6Zwc...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Writer's Relief

    When you think of electronic music and the rave scene of the early-to-mid 90s, you don’t often think of young Christian, sober, balding, vegan kids. But this was Moby when he got his start in New York City. As Moby’s music became more popular in New York, and got airplay in the greater U.S. and in Europe, the crowds got bigger and certainly more attentive. But as popular as he became, his pre-performance nerves never seem to really went away (he later experienced debilitating panic attacks). To When you think of electronic music and the rave scene of the early-to-mid 90s, you don’t often think of young Christian, sober, balding, vegan kids. But this was Moby when he got his start in New York City. As Moby’s music became more popular in New York, and got airplay in the greater U.S. and in Europe, the crowds got bigger and certainly more attentive. But as popular as he became, his pre-performance nerves never seem to really went away (he later experienced debilitating panic attacks). To read about his admission is refreshingly honest in the world of pop star memoirs. Moby’s writing style is influenced by Herman Melville (which is where his name comes from), and it is fairly erratic. He often starts a chapter in the middle of a certain situation and then goes into how he got there‒at times with no seeming transition or even a paragraph change. He is deeply in love with a girl in one chapter and in the next she has disappeared. He might mention something very important that happened seven years ago, but there was no hint of that event in previous chapters. And yet, somehow, none of this really takes away from the writing. It’s as if he’s telling his story right to you; “…I was surprised to see Sarah at the party that night; oh right, I forgot to mention this but we met twelve years ago when I was living at the warehouse…” Porcelain concludes in the year 1999, right before Moby really hit it big with his album PLAY. It’s an interesting choice to have the memoir end right before his big rise to fame, but if anything, the decision adds to the book rather than takes away from it. Despite some of the holier-than-thou feelings he has toward his contemporaries early on, he mostly comes off as a fairly humble individual—see his reaction to meeting David Bowie—and the decision to end the book where it does reflects this.

  20. 4 out of 5

    L.C. Fiore

    Improbably void of any introspection whatsoever, this book, with few exceptions, skips what fans most want to know about, such as Moby's creative process or how certain songs came to be, and instead devotes an unholy amount of text to romances that go nowhere, blow by blow accounts of uneventful transatlantic flights, and every vegan restaurant he ever ate in. Fans would have been better served by hearing what it was like being in the studio for the first time, or what Moby felt as he rocketed Improbably void of any introspection whatsoever, this book, with few exceptions, skips what fans most want to know about, such as Moby's creative process or how certain songs came to be, and instead devotes an unholy amount of text to romances that go nowhere, blow by blow accounts of uneventful transatlantic flights, and every vegan restaurant he ever ate in. Fans would have been better served by hearing what it was like being in the studio for the first time, or what Moby felt as he rocketed from poor street urchin to megastar. The descriptions of NYC in the 80s and 90s are very nice though, and the story of the creation of "Feelin' So Real" strikes all the right chords. I'm still a fan, but I wish this memoir had spent more time on his incredible artistry and less time on banal moments.

  21. 4 out of 5

    QBD Books

    A week ago I was kicking myself for forgetting to bring a book with me on my flight to Sydney. A last minute decision to purchase Moby's autobiography Porcelain was the best one I've made in a while. A provokingly raw and honest account of his rise to fame from the poverty of Connecticut, the squalor of the meat packing district of New York and ending abruptly right before the pinnacle record of his career Play. Even without the account of what is ultimately his most celebrated work Moby take's A week ago I was kicking myself for forgetting to bring a book with me on my flight to Sydney. A last minute decision to purchase Moby's autobiography Porcelain was the best one I've made in a while. A provokingly raw and honest account of his rise to fame from the poverty of Connecticut, the squalor of the meat packing district of New York and ending abruptly right before the pinnacle record of his career Play. Even without the account of what is ultimately his most celebrated work Moby take's you for a ride through the coming of age of a genre cemented firmly at the forefront of the 90's till now. Porcelain is about making it, losing it, loving it and hating it. It's about finding your people, and your place, thinking you've lost them both, and then, finally, somehow, creating something sublime. - Melanie (QBD Tea Tree)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Jackson

    I wouldn't have picked this up except my friend Gavin helped out behind the scenes. It's a surprisingly well-wrought and compelling story of Moby's early years as a sober vegan living in squats and creating electronic music, navigating the hedonistic dance and rave scenes of the late '80s and early '90s. The book smartly ends before the launch of his commercial juggernaut "Play," recounting his unusual time as a DIY techno musician in crumbling NYC in vivid detail.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    I thought I was hate reading this, but Moby won me over. He's an engaging writer, and the book is well-structured and fun. I really enjoyed reading about NYC in the late 80s/early 90s. This book centers on his life from post-high school to right before he starts recording Play. An interesting choice, since he's so much better known for Play and his subsequent work.

  24. 5 out of 5

    jennifer

    ... and I'm stingy w/ my 5-pointers. FYI ~ If Goodreads had a 1-10 scale (I wish), this would be a solid 9!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mairead Hearne (swirlandthread.com)

    ‘From one of the most interesting and iconic musicians of our time, a piercingly tender, funny, and harrowing account of the path from suburban poverty and alienation to a life of beauty, squalor and unlikely success out of the NYC club scene of the late ’80s and ’90s.’ Porcelain ~ A Memoir by Moby is a novel that was selected as my bookclub’s choice for December 2017. This book has received mixed reviews but I have to admit I was blown away by the sheer rawness of the writing. Read on for my ‘From one of the most interesting and iconic musicians of our time, a piercingly tender, funny, and harrowing account of the path from suburban poverty and alienation to a life of beauty, squalor and unlikely success out of the NYC club scene of the late ’80s and ’90s.’ Porcelain ~ A Memoir by Moby is a novel that was selected as my bookclub’s choice for December 2017. This book has received mixed reviews but I have to admit I was blown away by the sheer rawness of the writing. Read on for my full thoughts… ‘My mom had been unemployed for over a year, and her last relationship had ended when her boyfriend tried to stab her to death. Sometimes I would find her crying while she folded the neighbors’ clothes. She would be folding furiously, a cigarette lodged in her mouth, tears falling onto the neighbors T-shirts. I was ten years old.’ The year is 1976 and from the opening page of Porcelain we are immediately introduced to the life of a young boy, who witnessed the daily sadness of his mother as her life spiraled out of control. Moby knew even then that there was a better life out there, somewhere, and he promised himself that he would find it. Growing up for Moby wasn’t easy. The road he chose in his formative years was paved with alcohol and destructive living but he never let go of his dreams and ambitions. His story really begins in a squat in Connecticut in 1989. Living in an abandoned factory for two years, Moby manages to survive in an environment that was far from pleasant. No running water, no bathroom and no heat, Moby was ‘functionally homeless’ yet happy. His one frustration was that he was not in a position to promote his obvious talent and passion for music with the Manhattan set. He needed a break. By now a confirmed teacher of the Christian faith and living a strict vegan lifestyle, Moby spent his days listening to the music of both the African-American and Latino community. He accepted the abuse he received, as he was not an obvious fit for this community, but that did not deter him from absorbing the rhythm of the music into his blood. New York was within 40km of where he lived. He had dreams of being in front of an audience who would accept him and who would ‘get’ his music style but for Moby this was never going be easy and he had a very rough few years ahead. I grew up in a house filled with music, as I have a brother who was involved with the local music scene in Cork for years. He instilled a passion for music in me that has now become part of my life. I don’t play an instrument, but I always have music on when reading, working, running. With my taste ranging from Jazz, Operatic and Pop, from Pink Floyd to Dan Fogelberg, from Thin Lizzy to Christy Moore and Julia Fordham and so much more. And, of course, I have my copy of Play, bought in 1999 for £14.99, the sticker still on the cover. While reading Porcelain I pulled out my CD of Play and, to be honest, I have been playing it since. As my OH mentioned, it feels like a mix of Groove Armada and Café Del Mar rolled into one fabulous collection of tracks. I got lost in Porcelain and it’s a book I have been raving about to anyone who will listen to me since. I remember listening to this music the first time around, but the story of the man behind it was an eye-opener for me. Moby doesn’t spare us anything of the ten years he spent on the circuit, as his career shot up to great heights and also collapsed to very low lows. The descriptions of his years spent as an underground DJ and his love/hate affair with alcohol is vivid and very very honest. My stomach churned, my nose twitched as the smells just hit me in such a realistic manner. Moby mentioned in the Afterword that he had initially considered hiring a ghost writer to help him put his words together and shape it into a book. It is the fact that he eventually chose to go alone that makes for very raw and honest read. New York is portrayed with such an intense and powerful language. This is New York in the 90’s where Moby introduces us to Madonna, Run DMC, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jeff Buckley and even Miles Davis. His interaction with these people had such an impact on his life and his career. He supported many great artists, until finally his music became increasingly popular in the rave scene of that era. He lived a hedonistic lifestyle of sex and drink, until eventually it all just plateaued to a halt. For Moby 1999 was the pivotal year when his life changed. He assembles what he thinks will be his final release, the album he believes will be his last, this album was named Play. It was to become a world wide phenomenon, an album that would have a stratospheric rise up through the music industry. Porcelain ~ A Memoir leaves us there at that point, wanting more…… Porcelain is an extraordinary book that charts the life of a man who just wanted to play music that made people happy, that made people dance. Moby’s story is a remarkable one. It’s intense. It’s chaotic. It’s energetic. It’s crude. It’s coarse. It’s funny. It’s real…..

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tsung

    What a trip! It’s like I’ve taken acid. It was totally fun and groovy while it lasted. But now that it is over, I feel drained and empty inside. If you don’t know Moby DJ/musician, “Porcelain”, “Natural Blues”, “We are made of stars” or “Go”, you might want to give this a miss. On the other hand, knowing that Richard Melville Hall aka Moby, is a descendent of Herman Melville, might just pique your interest. So can he write, given his illustrious ancestry? Not quite. His writing is simple and What a trip! It’s like I’ve taken acid. It was totally fun and groovy while it lasted. But now that it is over, I feel drained and empty inside. If you don’t know Moby DJ/musician, “Porcelain”, “Natural Blues”, “We are made of stars” or “Go”, you might want to give this a miss. On the other hand, knowing that Richard Melville Hall aka Moby, is a descendent of Herman Melville, might just pique your interest. So can he write, given his illustrious ancestry? Not quite. His writing is simple and unrefined. But what he lacks in style, he makes up in humour. The vignettes of his life in the late eighties and nineties are hilarious. Sex, drugs and Rock’n Roll! His experiences range from droll to hysterical. But all the hedonism, concupiscence and inebriated ecstacy get repetitive and tiresome after a while. Daily existence becomes senseless, meaningless and aimless. The memoirs are not just about Moby. It’s about New York, the almost perfect city. But it’s the seedy underbelly that we see. Hookers, drug lords, drug pushers, crack addicts. It’s about the nineties. Raves, DJs, ravers, club kids, goths, drag queens, hip hop, house, techno, alcohol, ecstacy, ketamine, crack, weed. “Sodom and Gomorrah let the DJ play. Cos we’re only gone tomorrow but here today.” V13, Mick Jones. And what of Moby himself? He is quite an interesting character. Despite his flaws, his indiscretions and his anxiety, his resilience is remarkable, especially in his early years. He survived the most impecunious of circumstances to became a successful DJ/musician. There were episodes where he failed miserably and it seemed like his career was over. Yet he persisted and bounced back. So Porcelain is worth a look, but it is not everybody’s cup of tea.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alison Cole

    I really enjoyed this book! I appreciate Moby letting us into the deep corners of the first half of his life, and shedding his stories and feelings so openly and humbly. I was stunned by the attention to detail his storytelling unraveled. I think he has truly a brilliant mind, and the fact that he wrote the book himself (no ghost writer) proves this thought. As a fellow ethical vegan, I found myself really relating to many parts of Moby's inner being, and I really appreciated him sharing I really enjoyed this book! I appreciate Moby letting us into the deep corners of the first half of his life, and shedding his stories and feelings so openly and humbly. I was stunned by the attention to detail his storytelling unraveled. I think he has truly a brilliant mind, and the fact that he wrote the book himself (no ghost writer) proves this thought. As a fellow ethical vegan, I found myself really relating to many parts of Moby's inner being, and I really appreciated him sharing throughout the book many facets of things that were happening in his life that intersected with him being a vegan person. I hope that the non-vegans who are reading this book will take away something from his messages when he writes about his lifestyle of eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches on the plane and simply not wanting to cause others harm - practising ahimsa as part of his daily life. Taking us through the full journey, he also is explicit in describing the lows of his alcoholic days, which is where the book ends. I understand he is currently working on writing the continuation of this book, and I hope it has a happier ending. Plus, I look forward to reading about the animal rights work he has done since then by using his celebrity and good fortune.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Robert Vaughan

    This moved like Moby's best music, a dance made for the masses. In vignettes, we get a glimpse of this music maker's simple life as vegan, Christian, his family values, and being born into a community like Darien, CT., in which the lower middle classes are nearly non-existent. What I related most to was his years living and composing on the lower East Side of Manhattan, and club music. Although I was never a raver, I did LOVE to dance back in the day. So to re-live so many music groups, numbers, This moved like Moby's best music, a dance made for the masses. In vignettes, we get a glimpse of this music maker's simple life as vegan, Christian, his family values, and being born into a community like Darien, CT., in which the lower middle classes are nearly non-existent. What I related most to was his years living and composing on the lower East Side of Manhattan, and club music. Although I was never a raver, I did LOVE to dance back in the day. So to re-live so many music groups, numbers, and the rare choices of Moby opening up his soul...transcendence!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Inez

    Listened to the audio version which was read by Moby and I just loved it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Keen

    3.5 Stars! There’s this meme going round that shows the image of a visibly stressed and troubled young man and below it reads “When you’re a vegan and you haven’t told anyone in 8 minutes!” that reminds me very much of Moby. As a Christian, vegan teetotaller he is always going to score well above average in the sanctimonious stakes, and god bless him (pun intended) he openly admits himself when describing an episode on a trans-Atlantic flight “I knew I was being a judgemental d!ck.” (p213) and “I 3.5 Stars! There’s this meme going round that shows the image of a visibly stressed and troubled young man and below it reads “When you’re a vegan and you haven’t told anyone in 8 minutes!” that reminds me very much of Moby. As a Christian, vegan teetotaller he is always going to score well above average in the sanctimonious stakes, and god bless him (pun intended) he openly admits himself when describing an episode on a trans-Atlantic flight “I knew I was being a judgemental d!ck.” (p213) and “I judged my friends. I claimed that I wasn’t judgemental when it came to drinking and drugs, but I was.” (p258). As much as he enjoys basking in the smug certainty of the many benefits his ascetic lifestyle gives him over people, it clearly does no favours for his memory, as he describes in some detail about appearing on Top of The Tops alongside New Order who were performing “World In Motion” and yet that couldn’t possibly have happened as Moby didn’t chart with “Go” until 1991 a full calendar year later?...Or when he talks about hearing “More Than A Woman” when he was eight and yet this song wasn’t recorded til 1977 when he would have been 11 going on 12?... But fear not after another female related drama he lapses back into excessive drinking and appears to shed his alcohol related airs and graces and in spite of his militant veganism and holier than thou default setting, Moby is actually a really likeable enough character who comes across as a regular, grounded guy who you could probably get on well with. Its interesting hearing him talking about the huge reactions he used to get from playing certain songs in clubs during the 90s and how that era is slowly being eroded due to the internet. His description of how he starts to fall out of favour in the clubs when ketamine starts to take the place of Ecstasy and people start to move towards harder and darker music over his fun, happy material is also revealing. So overall this is a really enjoyable read, sprinkled with a number of amusing and thought provoking encounters with various celebs and fellow musicians like the mafia owned place that Moby rents that has this mysterious underground space that plays host to Butthole Surfers, Sonic Youth, Beastie Boys and Iggy Pop sessions. Or his bizarre encounter with a man dressed as a tree in Tokyo or embarking on a relationship with a vegan girl he barely knows has unintentionally hilarious consequences.

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