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Autobiography

Morrissey

$24.99

Paperback

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English
Penguin
18 October 2013

ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- For any Morrissey fan, this is a joy to read for the language alone. Steven Patrick Morrissey does most definitely enjoy and employ a poetic turn of phrase and indulge his passion for alliterative word play. The effect is such that you could just about take any passage from the book and, in your best Moz impersonation, sing it aloud (yes, of course I did this). More importantly it was a page turner which, for a big book with small print and no chapters(!), is a good thing.

My fandom is always focused on the art alone which in Morrissey's case is his unique vocal delivery so perfectly matched to his extraordinary lyrics. That meant I really knew nothing of Morrissey apart from the fact he came from Manchester. The first part, telling of early family life, school and the streets of Manchester, read very much like a Dickens novel - full of grim menace and florid characters. Striking observations paint the mood, such as the appearance of any man at the door being taken as a sign of danger.

We move through early music influences and the emergence of his own desire to create, and throughout the book there are instances of Moz's own fanboy impulses, nearly always and not surprisingly deflating experiences.

The Smiths. Here the battle begins. Morrissey's early artistic life seems almost entirely full of incompetence - that of label executives, managers, and also his own and Johnny Marr's. Everyone bumbles along. The young artist is easy prey. The invective is ripe.

When the book arrives at the legal battle that was to destroy The Smiths, the scar is a chasm. The bile that Morrissey spews onto the judge is infectious and I feel the rage, although I'm aware that I'm only getting one side of the story. Mike Joyce's name is mud and the possibility of a Smiths reunion seems laughable in the extreme.

The book then moves on to life post-Smiths and a gradual emergence and point-scoring against a perceived perennial snubbing by England's music press, and a succession of world tour love-ins where he finally receives the accolades and adoration he craves. I had noticed, with minor annoyance, the US spelling throughout the book. Odd for an autobiography from a person from the UK published by a UK imprint, but not so odd when we appreciate the world-wide nature of his fan-base and in particular that of the US.

Is Morrissey difficult? I guess so, but that is probably the prerogative of an artist trying to pull something out of the morass of mediocrity.

Is Morrissey happy? I guess so. Laughter is not something that features in the book and it would seem, in his life generally. If it was, could he have written the lyrics he does? Morrissey writes his life in his songs. He notes a memorable exchange with a producer who asked "Do you ever get tired of singing 'I,I,I,I,I,I,I'?" to which Morrissey replies with dripping derision, "I?".

Craig Kirchner

p.s. Sitting alongside Morrissey's glorious hardback edition (full of interesting colour pics not included in the Penguin Black Classic edition) I spy a book titled Cowboys and Indies by Gareth Murphy. On the cover, at the bottom, is a quote by Geoff Travis, who was head of The Smiths' label, Rough Trade. Of Cowboys and Indies Travis says "If this book was a group, I would definitely sign them. It is that good." It makes me smile to think of Morrissey's response.

The long-awaited Autobiography arrives.

Steven Patrick Morrissey was born in Manchester on May 22nd 1959. Singer-songwriter and co-founder of the Smiths (1982-1987), Morrissey has been a solo artist for twenty-six years, during which time he has had three number 1 albums in England in three different decades.

Achieving eleven Top 10 albums (plus nine with the Smiths), his songs have been recorded by David Bowie, Nancy Sinatra, Marianne Faithfull, Chrissie Hynde, Thelma Houston, My Chemical Romance and Christy Moore, amongst others.

An animal protectionist, in 2006 Morrissey was voted the second greatest living British icon by viewers of the BBC, losing out to Sir David Attenborough. In 2007 Morrissey was voted the greatest northern male, past or present, in a nationwide newspaper poll. In 2012, Morrissey was awarded the Keys to the City of Tel-Aviv.

It has been said 'Most pop stars have to be dead before they reach the iconic status that Morrissey has reached in his lifetime.'
By:  
Imprint:   Penguin
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 198mm,  Width: 129mm,  Spine: 20mm
Weight:   330g
ISBN:   9780141394817
ISBN 10:   0141394811
Series:   Penguin Modern Classics
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Reviews for Autobiography

ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- For any Morrissey fan, this is a joy to read for the language alone. Steven Patrick Morrissey does most definitely enjoy and employ a poetic turn of phrase and indulge his passion for alliterative word play. The effect is such that you could just about take any passage from the book and, in your best Moz impersonation, sing it aloud (yes, of course I did this). More importantly it was a page turner which, for a big book with small print and no chapters(!), is a good thing.

My fandom is always focused on the art alone which in Morrissey's case is his unique vocal delivery so perfectly matched to his extraordinary lyrics. That meant I really knew nothing of Morrissey apart from the fact he came from Manchester. The first part, telling of early family life, school and the streets of Manchester, read very much like a Dickens novel - full of grim menace and florid characters. Striking observations paint the mood, such as the appearance of any man at the door being taken as a sign of danger.

We move through early music influences and the emergence of his own desire to create, and throughout the book there are instances of Moz's own fanboy impulses, nearly always and not surprisingly deflating experiences.

The Smiths. Here the battle begins. Morrissey's early artistic life seems almost entirely full of incompetence - that of label executives, managers, and also his own and Johnny Marr's. Everyone bumbles along. The young artist is easy prey. The invective is ripe.

When the book arrives at the legal battle that was to destroy The Smiths, the scar is a chasm. The bile that Morrissey spews onto the judge is infectious and I feel the rage, although I'm aware that I'm only getting one side of the story. Mike Joyce's name is mud and the possibility of a Smiths reunion seems laughable in the extreme.

The book then moves on to life post-Smiths and a gradual emergence and point-scoring against a perceived perennial snubbing by England's music press, and a succession of world tour love-ins where he finally receives the accolades and adoration he craves. I had noticed, with minor annoyance, the US spelling throughout the book. Odd for an autobiography from a person from the UK published by a UK imprint, but not so odd when we appreciate the world-wide nature of his fan-base and in particular that of the US.

Is Morrissey difficult? I guess so, but that is probably the prerogative of an artist trying to pull something out of the morass of mediocrity.

Is Morrissey happy? I guess so. Laughter is not something that features in the book and it would seem, in his life generally. If it was, could he have written the lyrics he does? Morrissey writes his life in his songs. He notes a memorable exchange with a producer who asked "Do you ever get tired of singing 'I,I,I,I,I,I,I'?" to which Morrissey replies with dripping derision, "I?".

Craig Kirchner

p.s. Sitting alongside Morrissey's glorious hardback edition (full of interesting colour pics not included in the Penguin Black Classic edition) I spy a book titled Cowboys and Indies by Gareth Murphy. On the cover, at the bottom, is a quote by Geoff Travis, who was head of The Smiths' label, Rough Trade. Of Cowboys and Indies Travis says "If this book was a group, I would definitely sign them. It is that good." It makes me smile to think of Morrissey's response.





Five stars. With typical pretension, Morrissey's first book has been published as a Penguin Classic. It justifies such presentation with a beautifully measured prose style that combines a lilting, poetic turn of phrase and acute quality of observation, revelling in a kind of morbid glee at life's injustice with arch, understated humour ... It is recognisably the voice of the most distinctive British pop lyricist of his era -- Neil McCormick Daily Telegraph A brilliant and timely book ... What is so refreshing about Morrissey's Autobiography is its very messiness, its deliriously florid, overblown prose style, its unwillingness to kowtow to a culture of literary formula and commercial pigeon-holing ... Autobiography is a true baggy monster, a book in which a distinctive prose style is allowed to develop ... A rococo triumph ... Overwhelmingly this is a book to be thankful for ... In the ways that matter, Autobiography reads like a work of genuine literary class -- Alex Niven Independent Sharply written, rich, clever, rancorous, puffed-up, tender, catty, windy, poetic, and frequently very, very funny. Welcome back, Morrissey -- Michael Bonner Uncut Magazine Rancorous, rhapsodic, schizophrenic: Autobiography delivers a man in full -- Andrew Male Mojo If one is willing to accept that a Morrissey book could be a classic, then the book justifies its status remarkably early on. ... As a work of prose Autobiography is a triumph of the written word Louder than war Funnier than the Iliad ... A triumph -- Colin Paterson Today Programme, BBC Radio 4 One of the autobiographies of this or any year ... A wonderfully entertaining read. He's as witty, acerbic and opinionated as you'd expect, but there's a welcome self-awareness throughout that makes the dramatic flourishes and hyperbolic dismay all the more hilarious. He may have more flaws than Manchester's Arndale Centre but he's just brilliantly, uniquely Morrissey Daily Mirror Morrissey's Autobiography is brilliant and relentless. Genius, really -- Douglas Coupland


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