Porcelain [is] a moving, vivid portrait of his turbulent journey in the music biz from 1989 to 1999, as well as life as a short, balding, vegan, Christian lapsed alcoholic in New York City during that decade ... Moby’s descriptive powers...are descriptive and affecting. His intricate explanations of how he created tracks like 'Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?' combine nerdy technical specs with poetic insights. Even if you don’t care about Moby’s music, you’ll get a detailed glimpse into a Manhattan existence that is virtually unrecognizable today ... his lucid, witty writing style and keen eye for absurdity make Porcelain one of the better musician autobiographies. Its attention to detail and recall of dialogue are remarkable.
Moby’s decision to focus solely on the beginning and middle years of his career, breaking off just before his leap into mainstream popularity, is fresh and canny: It spares us the inevitable tedium of reading about the anticlimactic aftermath of success, the inevitable weakness of many such accounts. And his inversion of the usual narrative arc of squalor and redemption — midway through the book, Moby abandons sobriety and descends into decadence — demonstrates his integrity...The anthropological value of the account, though, cannot in the end overcome distinctly pedestrian prose. Moby’s occasional detour into philosophical speculation ('Descartes and I had decided that the world as we perceived it must be pretty close to how it objectively was') is high-school-parking-lot philosophizing of a particularly irritating sort. A graver flaw is the strange emptiness at the center of the book; for all its flash and grime, Moby seems unwilling or unable to place his story within the greater context of the times.
[F]or a 400-page autobiography, it feels frustratingly incomplete, leaving you wondering quite a bit about the man, now 50, who wrote it...It must be said that Moby writes with rich, tangible detail and beauty, especially about the squalid corners of New York he adored almost to a fault...Moby never draws a direct line between those early days of disco and today's raging millennial bacchanals; that, along with the gaps in his own career timeline, makes Porcelain feel like an unfinished document. But maybe he'll dive back in.