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Nothing Paperback – 19 Jun 2000
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Paul Morley had his 15 minutes of true glory with the sudden and short-lived flowering of talent at ZTT Records in the early 1980s, with the brilliance that was Frankie Goes To Hollywood and The Art of Noise. Now that he's an all-purpose journalist and media pundit, few would stop to credit him with an inner life. But with Nothing he corrects that picture. And how. Morley's life story provides the perfect recipe for long-term angst. Born on the Isle of Wight, son of a prison guard, raised in a stifling Stockport, apparently tortured throughout his adolescence and beyond by a complete absence of self-worth, he tracks most of his problems to the suicide--unexplained, perhaps unexplainable--of his father in the summer of 1977. Nothing is not always an easy read--the first dozen pages comprise Morley's meditation on a dead body, and that dense pondering fairly much sets the tone. For father was not alone-Morley explores his obsessed, obsessive reaction to the deaths of Joy Division's Ian Curtis, Marc Bolan, Elvis and it's clear that this tragedy has structured his entire life. On virtually every page there's a reference to Morley's previous attempts to write this book--with its myriad working titles (Sing A Song of Suicide, Death In The Family, you get the idea)--you soon realise that this is a life project. Of course there's a blacker-than-black comedy at work here too--from his father's orgasm in 1956 ("after the war and just before rock and roll") to the suicide-friendly discography he thoughtfully provides to help readers along. Self-indulgent? Yes. Fancy an evening down the pub with him? Not unless you come. But it is a sincere, intensely personal self-exploration that--oddly--speaks for a generation of angst-ridden, and borderline-suicidal, young men. --Alan Stewart
Top customer reviews
In 1977, Paul Morley's father committed suicide, an event which has been ever present in his mind but in a kind of unacknowledged way. "Nothing" is an attempt to come to terms with such a major life/death event, which, until recently, Morley had blocked-out to the degree that he couldn't quite remember in which year the suicide took place.
With his Manchester base, Paul Morley championed Joy Division, whose singer Ian Curtis also committed suicide. The book begins with a lengthy description of Curtis' dead body as Tony Wilson, boss of Joy Division's label, Factory Records invited Morley to do this. The book also touches upon the deaths of other singers such as Marc Bolan and Elvis Presley, deaths which were better remembered and more effectively grieved for by the author than the death of his father.
The book gives an intimate insight into a real family, although Morley's mother and two sisters take bit parts until the latter stages of the book. A lengthy interview with these women fills in many of the factual gaps in the whys, whens an hows of Morley's father and his life and death.
Paul Morley still has the need to play around with words and narrative. The book is entertaining, sobering, funny and sad. It explores all the contradictions of the taboo of suicide and deals with a whole lot more besides.
Morley takes you on a journey into the extraordinary things that happen in our ordinary lives, the fascinating occurences that happen day to day that make us who we are.
Stunning. It is a book I will read again and again. I wish I could say thank you to him.
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It's just his writing style.Read more