October 18, 2013
Morrissey joins the Classics
by Zeljka Marosevic
Yesterday in Britain Morrissey joined the literary canon as his autobiography, Autobiography, was published as a Penguin Classic. Some seemed to mock this move, taunting the writer and his book for so easily assuming their (rightful) place in the Penguin Classics library, nestling so comfortably between William Morris and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Today, we bring you the abridged Autobiography. A perusal of the below will convince even the most vehement naysayers not that Morrissey’s work will become a classic, but that it already is.
For a long time, I went to bed early. Sometimes, my candle scarcely out, my eyes would close up so quickly that I did not have time to say to myself: “Thank God I was not killed today by the Victorian knife-plungers of Manchester.” The next day I went to WH Smith. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of nothing but places of dread must be in want of Jerry Nolan on the cover of the New York Dolls album: the hussy-slut positioning of the legs is playmate call-girl, and the pink drum kit might be a rock’n’roll first. “See,” said one fat assistant to another, “I told you someone would buy it.” At last I am someone! Then I met Johnny Marr. “Call me Stephen. Actually scrap that, call me Morrissey.” Johnny had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. We decided to play a gig. Johnny said he would buy the flowers himself, for the night’s gig. But when the time came, I bloody well nicked them didn’t I? It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of my own wisdom, it was the age of Mike Joyce’s foolishness. Actually, Johnny wrote me a letter and said he “honestly hated the sort of people we became”, so it was literally the worst of times. Then Friends calls me up and says come and do a scene with Pheebs in Central Perk. I am requested to sing ‘in a really depressing voice’… and it’s goodbye to Hollywood yet again. But last night I dreamt I went to Manchester again . . . I came upon it suddenly; the approach masked by the unnatural growth of a vast urban regeneration that spread in all directions . . .I live in LA now, or Rome. They tried to kidnap me in Mexico. Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, I still hate The Smiths, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes, and most significantly, to release solo albums. Nine, to be exact. I am singing the truth by myself, which might also be the truth of others …riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from the swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodious vicus of recirculation back to animal rights and the NME conspiracy.
With thanks to all the greats: Marcel Proust, Jane Austen, Herman Melville, George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, Daphne du Maurier, DH Lawrence, James Joyce, and Morrissey.
Zeljka Marosevic is the former managing director of Melville House UK.