Saturday 17 March 2018

Morrissey's unpublished memoir is an instant classic

In these recession-straitened days, the €700,000 deal that RTé journalist Kathleen MacMahon has won for the English-language rights to her first two novels is a remarkable achievement. So This Is How It Ends is the title of her first book, but obviously there's no end to the faith placed in her selling power by publisher Little, Brown's -- or to their pockets, either.

Nor has there been an end to the vast sums publishers are willing to pay for celebrity memoirs -- despite the fact that such tawdry tomes have seldom sold enough copies to warrant the huge advances lavished on their preening authors.

Indeed, multi-million-euro enticements are currently being dangled in front of that charming musical man Morrissey, who, although now middle-aged, continues to be revered as an icon of miserabilism by a new generation of glum-faced male undergraduates.

Among those vying for the rights to the 51-year-old Mancunian's autobiography, which he's already completed and which runs to 660 typescript pages, are Faber & Faber, who are eager for him to join an illustrious literary roster that includes TS Eliot, WH Auden, Louis MacNeice, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes and Paul Muldoon. "History commands it," Faber's publishing director beseeched him, "destiny commands it."

It would be nice to know what Eliot, the famously high-minded director of Faber, would make of such entreaties, though they may fall on deaf ears because Morrissey himself is apparently more inclined to give his book to Penguin -- though only if it's published under their Penguin Classic imprint.

In the old days, a classic was definable as a book that had stood the test of time, but, hey, this is Morrissey we're talking about, even if he seems somewhat dubious about the appeal of what he's written, telling BBC Radio 4: "I just wonder if 660 pages are too much for people to bear. I'm really not that interesting so I don't know why I've written that much."

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