Peter Hook's lengthy recollection of his twenty seven years in New Order is far from a traditional biography. It's more of a "conversations with Peter Hook" serial than a thorough retelling of the New Order story. The closest comparison in my library would be Chris Heath's "Feel". It's the only other bio I can think of that contains so many bizarre road stories and random minutiae, and almost completely ignores the usual meat and potatoes explanations of the creative process and the how's and why's of the band's popularity growth. In both cases, the book isn't really about the man, but about the man and his entourage of colourful characters. Everyone and everything seems real and tangible, as if the laughter and debauchery is happening right in front of your face. Often you're left wondering how this bunch of misfits ever got around to making such brilliant music.
Hook wanders off script a lot, but in a good way. He'll flash back to an older story to provide context, and offer a preview of events to come (sometimes years later). Stories about time spent in the studio are punctuated by "geek alerts" with detailed yet accessible descriptions of the recording process and the then state of the art equipment New Order were using. He'll provide an overview of a tour, mostly filled with tales of excess you're used to hearing from hair metal bands rather than the famously reclusive New Order. After covering one calendar year of their goings on (or longer once you reach the 90's and the band's activities become less structured and more volatile), there's a timeline that includes nearly every setlist from every gig they played, and additional commentary from Hook for many entries, peeling back additional layers "behind the music".
Eventually I'll likely buy his Hacienda and Joy Division books as well, but for now I need a break from the world of Peter Hook. Did I mention how long this book is? Then again, twenty seven years should cover a lot of ground, and you the fan probably want the journey to feel long. Hook even says so in the book, and trashes Barney Sumner for ripping off his fans by devoting only 100 pages to New Order in his book (among the many, many, MANY shots taken at Sumner liberally from the start of the book until the end).
Even though New Order were famously private in interviews, and almost always left their personal and professional lives shrouded in mystery, in a way there's nothing surprising in Hook's book. Factory were hellaciously bad with money, most of it earned by New Order. We knew that. The band somehow stuck with the label until the bitter end for reasons that were never entirely clear. And they're still not clear, even to Hook, today! One theme of the book is how important issues were almost always swept under the rug. Critical decisions were postponed or avoided again and again. Everyone involved only has themselves to blame. Even at their peak, the band members kind of hated each other and formed three distinct camps -- Hook, Sumner, and The Other Two. The best example of this is in the 1993 documentary "Neworderstory", which is sadly almost impossible to find on the usual streaming sites (I can't remember what I did with my old VHS copy). It is kind of shocking how little is said about Steve Morris and Gillian Gilbert, particularly Gillian, who Hook hardly ever interacted with.
Hook wears his heart on his sleeve, when the subject matter is inspiring, the writing is inspiring. He doesn't go through with a track-by-track review of "Republic" (unlike every other New Order album) because the recording process was too frustrating and painful and he finds he just can't go through with it (i.e. the track by track review). Toward the end of the book, the apathy and frustration comes across in his writing. In the early 80's recording was a pleasure and Hook found his niche behind the soundboard, hence the frequent "geek alerts" and other cool little details. By the end of the book, recording is a costly chore that alienated the band members from each other even more. Hook's alcoholism didn't help (caused by the problems in the band or a symptom of them?) and it's clear that the creative spark is gone. The fact that "Waiting For the Sirens Call" was so strong looks now like a minor miracle.