Because I am a long-time, but not obsessive fan of The Smiths and Morrissey in particular, I haven’t looked forward to reading a celebrity memoir quite like this. Autobiography, as it is titled, was published by Penguin Classics in the UK, which has caused such pouting and hmmpf-faces to be made in the literary establishment that I can only assume there’s a room full of perturbed Monopoly men somewhere. But seriously—it’s a joke. I hope that we’re all clear now, that the fact Morrissey’s book is on Penguin Classics, is a joke. But as far as celebrity memoirs go, I think that Moz’s has really broken the mold with this one.
Here is Morrissey showing he knows what alliteration means: “Streets to define you and streets to confine you, with no sign of motorway, freeway or highway.”
And another one, sort of: “Gangs are fashions passion in ragamuffin…”
Morrissey being excited with regards to finding a magazine called Film and filming, “I knew then that life could only ever be changed for the better because somebody somewhere had taken a risk – often with their own life.”
Morrissey describing a solitary walks, “Such jaunts are typical of those scattered days when you aren’t quite sure what to do with yourself and you appear to be the bounty that nobody especially wants.”
“Naturally my birth almost kills my mother, for my head is too big, but soon it’s I, and not my mother, on the critical list at Salford’s Pendlebury Hospital.”
You get my point. But really, I think that this raises an excellent point about Morrissey. You either like him, or you don’t. You either forgive his gloomy outspokenness, or you can’t stand it. This book is definitely a lot of Morrissey being Morrissey. Like almost all books written by celebrities, there is not a whole lot of editing. “Patti Smith had displayed her radiant stallions gradually lapping into seahorses nervousness.” Wait. What?
I’m still a fan though.
I’m honestly surprised that I didn’t expect this. The cover even tells me: This. Is. Morrissey. A photograph of the singer, with his eyes shut, chin slightly up, with a blue filter. Penguin Classic cover intact. Yep. This is definitely what I should have expected.
Here’s the idea. If you like Morrissey despite his sometimes-taxing public persona, the book makes for a good insight. We learn a lot about the boy named Stephen and his Manchester up bringing. (In a sort of roundabout way, of course.) And tangential description doesn’t led up, “…in an area now bereft of its narrow and once-crowded streets, and stripped of its maze of illuminated corner-shops. Dark crimes return to a wasteland where there is now no street lighting since there are now no streets.”
In case you haven’t noticed, he uses a lot of words. But the wordiness contributes to the endearing yet egotistical mind of its writer. He tells about two relationships, one relationship with Tina Dehgani and another with Jake Walters. Saying with wordiness, to have kids, with the former, “…mewling miniature monster”. And saying of the later partner, “For the first time in my life the eternal ‘I’ becomes ‘we’, as, finally, I can get on with someone.”
In general, it is as exhausting as you think Morrissey is, however much that may be.
Either way, his Autobiography is still a pretty tiring read.