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Customer Review

127 of 146 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put it down. But for all the wrong reasons.., 22 Nov. 2013
This review is from: Autobiography (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
There is a moment in his autobiography where Morrissey complains about the disappointment of his lunches with surviving members of the New York Dolls. They aren't at all interested in him, don't want to talk about the things that fascinate him about the Dolls and are just not the people that existed in his mind; a perfect allegory for this hugely disappointing and woefully undisciplined book that is still as compelling as lunch with David Johansen probably is.

It turns out that Morrissey doesn't want to talk about what interests me. His relationship with his father, the meaning behind his lyrics, how the songs were composed, walking out on the David Bowie tour, playing with three fifths of the ex Smiths at Wolverhampton whilst 2 were suing him, the Jonny Rogan biography, none of that gets a mention. Because Morrissey wants to slag off Geoff Travis and Judge John Weeks for page after page after page. He even repeats the same insults (seriously, get an editor!).
He also wants to slate most of the people he has worked with, obsess over chart positions and generally blame every record company and manager he has worked with for anything that has gone wrong in his adult life. I can't help thinking that the thing all these people have in common is Morrissey. Reading the excellent Mozipedia reveals several other collaborators unnamed in Autobiography who had to take legal action against him after his mother called them to say that they would not be getting paid... I digress.

This book confirms that Morrissey is just not the person he is in my head. I had guessed as much, but the person that emerges from Autobiography is not one that I warmed to at all. He's funny. He loves pop music and films. He truly cares about animals on a global and personal level and talks extensively about the inhumanity of the human race and feminism. This is the Morrissey I hoped for. But the book displays a woeful lack of self awareness. He seems to completely lack in empathy for individuals however noble his more grand universal sentiments about suffering might be. He uses the N word on a very shaking context along with some pretty sexist language (calling the other 3 Smiths "girls" when describing the court case among other things). he also uses some grim metaphors to describe female genitalia and dismisses people based on their appearance on most pages. It's a vulgar picture which says nothing to me about my life (and if you thought that was bad wait until you read some of his own lyrical insertions). But the clincher for me was his moaning about an accountant who wouldn't help him get a managers £250K back from their grieving family after a deal went wrong following the man's sudden death.

I considered myself a big Morrissey fan, I've lost count of how many books I've read about him so I shouldn't have been too surprised. Especially as this book is very constant with his dire blog postings on Truetoyou.net On reflection I believe I've been making excuses for Morrissey for years, at least since You Are the Quarry. I've tried to like the last 3 overwhelming mediocre albums and clung to the rare moments of inspiration. There are rare moments of inspiration in Autobiography too and I found it an addictive read. But Morrissey has warn out my good will this time and I left the book considering myself a former fan. In that regard it was a powerful experience, but not the one I wanted - like a bad lunch date with the late Arthur Kane? Quite possibly.
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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Nov 2013 18:37:46 GMT
A highly enjoyable review - but careful. You may find yourself the subject of Mr Morrissey's bile and scorn in his next song. If you're still listening, that is.

It's odd - most pop stars get the nasty bio; John Lennon's star has been tarnished in even Philip Norman's recent bio of him, I can't think of David Bowie in the same way after one mid-1980s bio, and Macca has his controlling, mean side exposed in Fab (though also his philanthropic, charming side too; he's a Gemini). But Morrissey seems to have done it to himself.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Nov 2013 20:14:35 GMT
Oh who am I kidding, I'll be listening!
Thank you for the insightful comment, I had not considered how hatchet job biographies are usually written by other people.

Posted on 26 Nov 2013 14:47:06 GMT
Good review!

Posted on 2 Dec 2013 10:40:39 GMT
Rudi says:
Best review I have read of this book anywhere!!!.

Posted on 2 Dec 2013 10:40:48 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 2 Dec 2013 15:40:58 GMT]

Posted on 6 Dec 2013 09:22:16 GMT
Reviewer says:
Thanks for writing this review - it says all I wanted to say

Posted on 8 Dec 2013 12:59:19 GMT
Great review, sums up my experience of the book too. It started well enough, I enjoyed his formative years which gives further context, if it were needed, to the early Smiths songs. I'd like to have known what inspired him to become a vegetarian, as he certainly influenced me among others. I too found the courtroom repetition and obsession over chart position uninteresting. I laughed at how he used so many of his own lyrics (I grew out of that twenty years ago), but couldn't help wonder where he was going with the spewing list of Morrissey gigs that made up the final pages, other than to awkwardly assert that he's doing all right without the need for a Smiths reform thank you very much. Page turner yes, are we much the wiser, no.

Posted on 23 Dec 2013 21:50:05 GMT
A. Stanhope says:
Bravo. Top review. And I thought I was the only fan who longs for a decent album these days! You are spot on about what's missing from the book, there is no lowdown at all about band members or even much about the smiths! I hope Jonny Marr has a crack at writing about the smiths as it must be better than this.

Posted on 1 Jan 2014 06:57:36 GMT
boygarland says:
I think you're reviewing Morrissey as a person instead of Morrissey as a writer or this book for what it is: Morrissey's biography written by Morrissey the author.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jan 2014 11:37:13 GMT
Rudi says:
For a man who was made famous for his lyrics and use of words Morrissey is a terrible writer.

Morrissey the person comes out of this book in a very poor light. Morrissey the writer? He needs an editor.
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