BOOK REVIEW: Morrissey, “Autobiography”
So the enigmatic former frontman for The Smiths – and solo star for a quarter century – finally gave in and wrote his “tell all” autobiography. And in truth, to this reader, it was anti-climatic. Now, it has to be said that I have never been one of the devoted to either The Smiths or to Morrissey. I like both in very small doses, so I’m able to look at this with some objectivity. And I’m not a curiosity seeker, either. So I can sum it up easily and say “interesting but a little too Dickensian” for me. It’s prose-laden and filled with the same kind of lyrical hyperbole that many of his song lyrics are comprised of – and it should be pointed out that he does quote from himself a few times. The simplest description would be that this book is written in the manner of the notorious British “kitchen sink drama” – bleak and dark times; a pall of misery that hangs over everyone and everything and you can almost taste his bitterness and disdain for everyone and everything around him. Don’t get me wrong – it’s warmly funny in places and he’s especially complimentary towards ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. The low point of the book, however, is the unnecessarily long dissection of the lawsuit that found Morrissey and Marr pitted against The Smiths’ rhythm section, Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke. Too much time is spent in detailing Morrissey’s not-too-kind opinion of the judge and too many almost-adolescent swipes at Messrs. Joyce and Rourke.
I did, however, appreciate his matter-of-factness concerning his (seemingly) two most serious relationships; I was beginning to feel like there was too much of a disconnect and not enough of the human being coming out. Until Morrissey became a bit more “personal”, this autobiography started to feel like a reporter’s work and not the author’s own story. In all, it’s an easy read, but it doesn’t give great insight into the man himself. However, for someone who has tried to remain so (famously) private, this does, at the least, offer a glimpse.