Barnaby Smith reviews 'List of the Lost' by Morrissey

Barnaby Smith reviews 'List of the Lost' by Morrissey

List of the Lost

by Morrissey

Penguin, $19.99 pb, 128 pp, 9780141982960

Like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, Morrissey is among the relatively few figures in popular music deemed worthy of serious academic attention. Scholarly theses on Morrissey are common, dissecting the poetic cadence and social relevance of his remarkable song lyrics, from The Smiths' self-titled début album of 1984 to more recent solo albums. It is not surprising, therefore, that such a 'literary' musician, who bears the strong influence of Oscar Wilde in both his image and his lyrics, would have ambitions towards a novel – especially in the wake of his moderately well-received and decidedly florid Autobiography (2013), which he notoriously insisted be published as a Penguin Classic.

It is unfortunate and perhaps surprising, however, that he has produced something as preposterous as List of the Lost. Here is a novel (or novella) blighted by a disorienting, juvenile, and over-confident stream-of-consciousness style, combined with an inexplicable series of reckless personal rants covering the full spectrum of Morrissey's social causes, indelicately shoehorned between often cursory developments in a flimsy plot. The result is, paradoxically, both dizzying and boring.

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Barnaby Smith

Barnaby Smith

Barnaby Smith is a writer, critic, poet, and musician currently based in northern New South Wales. He has written for Rolling Stone, the ABC, The Guardian, The Lifted Brow, The Quietus, Art Guide, Southerly, Cordite, Best Australian Poems and many others. In 2018 he won the Scarlett Award for art writing.

Published in December 2015, no. 377

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