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They That Are Unlikely To Be Whatever It Is We Imagine Them To Be,
This review is from: Autobiography (Paperback)
According to Morrissey, "We are all darkly suspect about those whose art we have loved: that they are unlikely to be whatever it is we imagine them to be." The author's insistence on going straight into Penguin's Classics range and a cover shot that reeks of self-satisfaction don't bode well, so what a relief that the Morrissey as he reveals himself in "Autobiography" is really LIKEABLE. He pulls no punches and is happy to say what he thinks about lots of people (disdain for Bryan Ferry, Geoff Travis, Johnny Marr, Mike Joyce, Tony Wilson, et al, love for Chrissie Hynde, Kirst MacColl et al . . . ) but there's plenty of self-awareness, self-deprecation and self-parody in this too. Writing about his Kensington home where he senses the supernatural, he says "the flat is haunted - as everyone who calls by testifies (even if the chilled atmosphere is initially assumed to be me)". He's clearly a difficult person to work with/for (judging by the number of ex-band-mates who have written about him), but which great artist isn't, and by the time we're dragged into Morrissey's court case with his former-drummer, it's impossible not to be on the author's side. Put in front of a fox-hunting judge who had never heard of Top Of The Pops, let alone The Smiths, Morrissey was on a hiding to nothing (or minus £3million as it turned out) from the start, as Johnny Marr, his legal team and ultimately justice itself, all melt way. After his appeal has also been kicked out of court, its not surprising our hero can't wait to leave the UK to lick his wounds and rebuild his career in Los Angeles (later "Moz Angeles"). The legal conflict is the climax of a series of confrontations with those that Morrissey suspects of disrespect, starting with The Smith's label, Rough Trade, who fail to understand, market, represent or even like the band that becomes their biggest hit. Morrissey is apparently still awaiting a first Christmas card from RT leader Geoff Travis, although he did get some biscuits once.
This starts out as being virtually unreadable (from the opening lines Morrissey is just trying TOO hard with his word-Smithing), but get beyond the first few pages and suddenly the book is virtually un-putdownable. You need to develop a coping-strategy for all the absurdly abstruse alliteration and mis-chiming rhyming, but if you can do that, then this is pure joy, as Morrissey tells the true/his version of what he feels the British media have been deliberately overlooking/distorting for decades, as his life story goes from down-trodden day-dreams in manky Manchester (I'm doing it now), to chart success, to band dis-band, to solo career and ultimately to long-awaited mass adulation on the global stage. Thank god that Morrissey eventually found a peace that allowed him to sit down and write about it all.