Morrissey turns bigmouth as memoir reveals romances

18th October 2013, Comments 0 comments

British fans were snapping up copies of the autobiography of former Smiths frontman Morrissey on Friday, drawn by revelations that his first full relationship came with a man when he was 35, and that he later considered having a child with a woman.

Reviews were mixed for the 457-page memoir titled simply "Autobiography", which has controversially been published under the Penguin Classics label normally reserved for the likes of Dickens, Tolstoy and Homer.

The book was the top-selling title on the Amazon website following its launch on Thursday, which involved the notoriously outspoken 54-year-old singer attending a single signing event in Stockholm.

"It's number one with a bullet. We were expecting it to be massive, but we've still been blown away by how many people have turned out to buy it," Waterstones bookshop chain spokesman Jon Howells told AFP.

"It's going to be our best-selling title this week and it is well set up to be a bestseller for Christmas."

The book by the singer of "Bigmouth Strikes Again" mixes miserablist growing-up stories with a series of typically acid quips about everything from the British legal system to some of his former bandmates.

Morrissey, who famously made a virtue out of his celibacy and has long kept his private life veiled, said in the book that he fell into a two-year relationship with photographer Jake Owen Walters in 1994.

Walters followed the star home from a London restaurant one night after vegetarian Morrissey walked out in protest at the fact that it was serving meat.

"Once inside the house the doorbell rings. It is Jake," writes Morrissey.

"He obviously understood my sudden exit, and he had been curious enough to follow me home. He steps inside and he stays for two years."

The artist whose lyrics often dwell on loneliness adds: "For the first time in my life the eternal 'I' becomes 'we', as, finally, I can get on with someone."

The relationship ends after the dour English playwright Alan Bennett visits their house, notes that the couple are not speaking and says: "Something's happened, hasn't it?"

Installed in Los Angeles in the late 1990s, Morrissey then says he fell in love with an Iranian-born US woman, Tina Deghani, who becomes a "lifetime constant".

"Tina and I discuss the unthinkable act of producing a mewling miniature monster. Had I ever previously known such a thought?" writes the star, once known for waving a bunch of gladioli and wearing a hearing aid during his performances on British television.

'Droning narcissism'

The book starts with a lyrical, four-and-a-half-page paragraph description of Stephen Patrick Morrissey's working-class childhood in the industrial town of Manchester, northwest England, including the line: "Naturally my birth almost kills my mother, for my head is too big."

His tales of his grim school days describe how one teacher rubbed anti-inflammatory cream into his wrist in an inappropriately sensual manner, while another "stands and stares" at boys in the shower.

It charts the rise of The Smiths, who from 1982 to 1987 established the template for independent music in Britain with hits like "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" that mixed Morrissey's depressively witty lyrics with Johnny Marr's jangly guitars.

Marr, whose creative friendship with Morrissey was at the heart of the band, emerges mostly positively from the book, but the same cannot be said of drummer Mike Joyce and bassist Andy Rourke.

Morrissey devotes a full 50 pages to his bitter legal battle with Joyce over royalties while Judge John Weeks, who heard the case, is described as "resembling a pile of untouched sandwiches".

The release of the long-awaited book made the front pages of many British newspapers, but reviews were mixed.

"It's self-absorbed, overlong and essential reading," said The Times. The Independent said it was a "predictable whine of self-pity and self-justification... droning narcissism."

The Guardian said it initially "comes close to being a triumph" but then goes "badly wrong".

But the Telegraph said it was the "best written musical autobiography since Bob Dylan's Chronicles".

Penguin books said they were pleased with the book's performance.

"It's selling very strongly. It's very positive at the moment," spokeswoman Rosie Glaisher told AFP.

© 2013 AFP

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