Chris Newbould | February 12, 2014
Autobiography, the memoir of Morrissey – the Mancunian professional windbag, narcissist and part-time flirter with nationalist politics – has won a major prize, in a manner of speaking, but the singer probably won’t be breaking out the Union Jack Bunting.
The prize in question is the UK’s Hatchet Job Award, presented annually to the writer of the year’s most cutting book review, though it’s hard to be too celebratory as this year’s award went to another tedious bore, AA Gill.
His review described Autobiography as “utterly devoid of insight, warmth, wisdom or likability” and criticised Penguin’s controversial decision to publish the book on its Penguin Classics imprint, normally reserved for, well, classics, saying the decision “doesn’t diminish Aristotle or Homer or Tolstoy; it just roundly mocks Morrissey”.
Gill wasn’t alone in his criticism. Morrissey may have sang Sister, I’m a Poet on the Every Day is Like Sunday b-side, but the UK’s Independent disagreed, noting the book’s “droning narcissism”. The Guardian, meanwhile, went with the somewhat backhanded compliment that the book “comes close to being a triumph”.
With a four-and-a-half page opening paragraph that does much justice to the writer’s traditional meandering verbosity, it’s a wonder anyone got through the book at all, but the tome managed to top the sales charts in the UK and Ireland, and set a new UK first week sales record for a music biography on its October 2013 release.