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Customer Review

on 12 February 2014
I suppose I should proclaim the following prior to reviewing ‘Autobiography’. Seeing as the negative reviews around the book apparently only stem from those who already have a bitter resentment of the man, it is fair that I should declare myself as a Mozza ‘fan’. This almost certainly gives a positive leaning in my review of the book that would otherwise not exist. But unlike the ‘haters’, I can honestly say I could have reviewed the book negatively if I considered it to be badly written, whereas I doubt ‘they’ could have reversed their opinions even if Shakespeare had written the book under a Morrissey pseudonym. And this is the first hurdle for the reader to overcome – Morrissey is not an over inflated idiot. The furore in the press surrounding the book’s status as a ‘Penguin Classic’ and Morrissey’s ‘obsession’ with the Smiths royalties trial are merely tabloid standard attempts to deface the book without any insightful analysis (not that they would be capable of this). The irony is that Morrissey has himself orchestrated these hurdles. The ‘Classics’ debate is a never-ending source of hilarity; the red-cheeked defenders of tradition blathering themselves into an early grave. Meanwhile, Morrissey’s ‘Classic’ sells and sells and sells. The actions of an idiot, or a marketing ploy like no other?, a bone picked up and shaken into smithereens by the drooling tabloid press, distributing Morrissey’s advertisements into the headlines. The press forget the actions of dictators and raging wars in order to ‘promote’ his work. Sly, witty and quite ingenious…and the book not yet published.
Unlike the press, ‘Autobiography’ is not predictable. Morrissey employs ‘poetic’ language, lending his memoir a cadence not in keeping with the usual prosaic attempts by the famous to apply pen to paper. His recollections are varied, sparse and deliberate, and comparisons with Dylan’s ‘Chronicles’ are not inappropriate. A person who dislikes Morrissey (and therefore dislikes the outspoken and honest) would not enjoy his book, because in it he is very opinionated (is this surprising, considering it outlines his life?) and yes, Morrissey criticises and argues, bitterness seeps from his words. But I forget why this is not allowed. For those wanting a ‘pleasant’ read, perhaps an autobiography, doubtlessly ghost written, by an ‘Eastenders’ star would be more suitable (it certainly wouldn’t receive the barrage of negative reviews that Morrissey’s book has, despite its awfulness)?
The ‘most disliked’ section of the book appears to be the Smiths trial. Why this is, I’m not sure. It was such a significant part of the band’s history that it would be senseless to gloss over it. I found it very interesting, and the sense of injustice it lends in explanation of Morrissey and his subsequent work is illuminating. Some also seem to be disappointed with the lack of ‘band history’ contained within the book. Why? This information can be found everywhere. It is dull.
Morrissey employs his wit consistently, and his self-loathing is, well, charming. For all the complaints about Morrissey, he appears to be both fantastically egocentric and yet absurdly self-critical, neither of which (nor both) satisfies the press, inexplicably, since he at times humbly concurs with their criticisms, or overcomes his ‘whining’ altogether. But then he is a contrary person, a real person, not a celebrity manufactured before our eyes and held together with press releases and charity appearances. This idea, of a Morrissey not owned by the press, even in the loosest sense in which Johnny Marr is, for example, owned, is quite simply not allowed. The press will not abide. And neither, it seems, will the short sighted critics with grudges to bear and careers to justify.
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