Morrissey - Autobiography (2 stars)

457-page monster mixes poetic and hilarious turns of phrase with foaming-mouthed diatribe

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Morrissey - Autobiography

(Penguin Classics)

Occasionally magnificent, mostly maddening: but then what did you expect? Having stirred an oh-so-Morrissey storm-in-a-teacup before it was even published (arrogantly as a Penguin Classic no less), Autobiography lands with a dull 457-page thump of badly-edited (un-edited?), chapter-break fearing prose, awash with bitterness, hubris and self-pity, but also pricked with poetic and wickedly hilarious turns of phrase.

A compelling first act recounting Moz’s upbringing in ‘Manchester’s armpit’ vividly illuminates this working-class Irish-English lad’s dismally unhappy early life. But then, just as he meets salvation in Johnny Marr, the pace suddenly accelerates and The Smiths years pass with infuriating haste with Rough Trade’s Geoff Travis cruelly reduced to pantomime oaf as blame for the band’s commercial underperformance is tossed hither and thither.

The solo years are peppered with recollections of Michael Stipe popping over for tea, and having breakfast with David Bowie. His infamous 1996 High Court legal battle with Mike Joyce unleashes a foaming-mouthed diatribe against his ex-band mates, as well as judge John Weeks, whom Morrissey at his whimsically bitchy best describes as resembling ‘a pile of untouched sandwiches’. No love lost, but not much gained either.


The former Smiths frontman and purveyor of bittersweet indie pop continues to enjoy his solo renaissance.

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1. Kerry Livingstone17 Mar 2014, 1:00pm Report

Funny that the phrase "badly-edited" is itself badly edited (it should have no hyphen). What's more, "un-edited" is unedited too. Great stuff.

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