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Morrissey - Autobiography

  by Andy Cassidy

published: 6 / 11 / 2013

Morrissey - Autobiography


Hardcore Morrissey fan Andy Cassidy gives his verdict on Morrissey's controversial and much criticised 'Autobiography'

When this book flopped through my door early last month, I thought all of my Christmases had come at once. Let me declare an interest, here: I am a huge Morrissey fan, and, with that baggage, it’s probably hard to be objective when reviewing his 'Autobiography'. Here goes, though. The book opens in Morrissey’s Manchester, a place of vicious thugs, petty, hateful teachers, grime, soot, and no hope of escape. Morrissey’s picture of Stretford in the 1960s is almost Dickensian in its bleakness. Ten years after Morrissey, I grew up in a similar situation, albeit 150 miles away in Glasgow, and, as a bookish, council house boy, I readily recognised his pains, and his characters seemed carved from my unconscious. That said… Like Lennon before him, Morrissey paints a picture of the “working class hero” when he was probably nothing of the sort. With two parents working, albeit in semi-skilled professions, Morrissey was never poor, and the poverty he witnessed was from a safely cossetted distance. So, yes, it was bleak, but I suspect that Morrissey, like Lennon and like me, was far enough removed from the great human swill to allow him such “treats” as libraries and education. Almost every review I have read of 'Autobiography' mentions Morrissey’s need of an editor, and, while the Grammar Nazi in me occasionally bristled, I found a charm and a warmth in his occasional lapses. I felt that, by virtue of his rambling, Morrissey lent a “stream of consciousness” feel to the book, rendering it almost lyrical in places. This stream is reinforced by Morrissey’s choice of not using chapters. That the Smiths trial features heavily will come as no surprise, but the trial marks a definite change in the book’s narrative. Prior to the trial, the book paints Morrissey very much as the victim of his life’s tribulations; post-trial, there is almost a sense of his gloating in his success. Not an attractive feature, I have to say. There are some revelations – relationships and sexuality are mentioned, fleetingly, and if tittle-tattle is your thing, then you will find it. If the Smiths, however, are your thing, you’ll find very little that hasn’t come out before, save a series of amusing rants against Geoff Travis. Having said all of that… I simply adored this book. I found it funny, heart-warming, touching, sad, open and wonderfully lyrical. It came as no surprise to me that Morrissey is a fine writer (others may disagree – some reviewers have been scathing about his prose style). Above all, however, I found it enjoyable in a way that I didn’t expect to. We all know that Moz is a petty man (at times), and I feared that the book would simply be one rant after another. I, however, suspect that there are more than enough rants to inspire a small industry of print retaliations against perceived slights. All in all, I thought it was a great read. I would, and will, happily read it again. If only he’d arrange a signing in Glasgow…

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Introducing Morrissey (DVD) (2014)
Morrissey - Introducing Morrissey (DVD)
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