Porcelain: A Memoir

by Moby

Penguin Books, 2016

Moby’s memoir is not my normal reading fare.  My path to Moby and his book was indirect.  It went like this.

Moby is vegan, and has been since 1987.  I’ve been vegan only since last year.  But on my path to becoming vegan I had occasion to see Moby in person three times:  once with Gene Baur, co-founder of Farm Sanctuary (who has been vegan since 1985, a lighthearted point of contention for Moby); again at Soka University in Southern California, at a premier screening of Allison Argo’s stunning documentary The Last Pig; and most recently at Frida Cinema in Santa Ana, where Moby was interviewed by a book critic from the Orange County Register.  At the Frida I purchased my copy of Porcelain, which Moby graciously signed for me, even drawing a sketch of an alien similar to the one on the cover.

Moby’s life is nothing like mine, for which I’m extremely grateful.  He’s an eccentric artist, DJ, and composer of electronic music who immersed himself in the club and rave scene in New York City through the ‘80s and ‘90s.  A disproportionate number of his companions were alcoholics, drug addicts, sex addicts (of all persuasions), and prostitutes.  At times they used him and at times he used them.  Some of them were his lasting friends.  Ironically, he was straight, Christian (for a long time), drug-free (with exceptions), and a teetotaler (in between two enthusiastic bouts of alcoholism, first in his teens and again in his thirties).

Through it all he was insecure, afraid, self-destructive, and suffered frequent panic attacks.  But despite all of the depravity and squalor around him he remained an artist committed to his music.  He sought love in his own admittedly clumsy, desperate way. He is good-humored and refreshingly honest.  His honesty and his wry sense of humor illuminate his writing, along with occasional brief exhibitions of self-pity.  I admire him for his willingness to share his story so candidly and openly.

I should add that Porcelain is only the first part of Moby’s story, covering his life through 1999.  Part two is nearing publication, and I will likely read it, to see how Moby, now fifty-two, has put the pieces of his life together since the relative low point at which Porcelain ends.

Here is the bottom line for me.  From meeting Moby and reading Porcelain, I know that he is vegan over and above almost everything else and that he is refreshingly honest.  This is reason enough for me to want to see where his life goes in part two.

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