"Madchester" Exposed: The Donnelly Brothers Release An Autobiography

No matter the brilliance or otherwise of the writing, the success or failure of a memoir will inevitably rely on the quality of its subject's stories. 

In the case of Anthony and Christopher Donnelly's new book, Still Breathing, there's no trouble there: the story of the boys who grew up on a Manchester scrapyard and went on to conquer British nightlife and street style, is a cracking one. 

The people and the places are instantly familiar: Factory Records, the legendary Haçienda, Noel Gallagher, New Order, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays. A compelling cast of troublemakers and trailblazers, to be sure. 

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From gritty beginnings, we trace the brothers’ founding of the fashion label Gio-Goi, weaving through organised crime, outraged print headlines, guns, arrests, millions made, millions lost and a story that is still, really, being written.

The Donnellys' staying power can't be made clear enough. While their cultural influence sustains, the cast of muses around them come and go – Ryders and Sumners replaced by Dohertys and Turners. 

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Maybe Still Breathings most endearing quality? It’s voicelessness. Sure, it leans heavily on interview transcripts and simple retellings. No, it isn’t breathtaking prose. But it needn’t be. When stories are this morbid, this curious and entertaining, you just need to stay out of the way.
 

Still Breathing: The True Adventures of the Donnelly Brothers (Black & White) will be published in November; £20.

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