Thoughts on Morrissey’s List of the Lost

9780141982960

I want to begin this by stating, clearly, that I am a huge Smiths and Morrissey fan (well, as far as his music goes. Sometimes we disagree on politics and actual general life experience; but his lyrics are often faultless.) Some of his lyrics are among my all-time favourites and I loved most of his autobiography- despite the age difference, there were some things I recognised as part of my own northern, working class upbringing.

I read the reviews of List of the Lost. I wondered whether it would be as bad as the critics were saying. Were they just slating him because he was moving from music to writing? Because he’d had the arrogance to demand the first book be published as a Penguin Classic? Or because he’s been outspoken in his criticism of… well, just about everyone? I thought I’d put all this aside and approach it as a fan but also as someone who’s fairly well-read. I’ve read excellent books, good books and terrible books and it’s rare for me to give up on a book. I reserved it from the library. A few days later, I picked the book up, full of hope and excitement.

I settled down, big mug of tea and a child-free afternoon ahead of me. I began reading.

I gave up seventeen pages later. Life is too short for this novel. What follows is painful for me to type, dear reader, but I must.

The lyricism that flows in Morrissey’s songs does not translate well to fiction; it just sounds clunky and pretentious. The opening is also incredibly boring. But, worse than that, is that it seems the publisher decided for some reason to forgo hiring a decent editor for this. Is it because Moz is a force to be reckoned with? Because they knew that people would buy this in their droves, regardless of quality? (I suspect the latter, but who knows?) The novel is the ultimate vanity project, it seems.

If you’ve managed to read the novel, I salute you. If you read it and enjoyed- not just as a mega fan, but because you liked the style and the story- I applaud you and want to know what else you enjoy reading.

In the end, I agreed with the critics and it pained me. I bet Morrissey has another book out before long; after all, no publicity is bad publicity- and this novel has probably produced ten times its length in comment (and yep, I’m aware of what I’m doing!) But next time, Mr Morrissey, Penguin, PLEASE get an editor in.

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