the morrissey memoir

Cover00Simon Reynolds at Bookforum:

Following Wilde and the dandy tradition, Morrissey’s ideal is the hard-edged personality, standing out and apart from the mediocre mass. There is a war being waged, between the bored and the boring. As Morrissey puts it: “the monotonous in life must be protected at all costs. But protected from what? From you and I.” The dandy self is both a monstrous eruption of sheer freakish difference, innately against nature and against the grain, and also a persona that’s been zealously cultivated and shaped to goad the small minded.

Growing up in a dilapidated working-class neighborhood of Manchester during the ’60s and ’70s, Morrissey fashioned himself out of fragments of poets (Stevie Smith, Auden, Housman), dramatists (Shelagh Delaney), and actors (James Dean). He was also fascinated by certain characters in forgotten TV shows and movies: the highly strung, waspishly witty Dr. Zachary Smith in Lost in Space; the stylish spy Jason King; Mr. Cringle, from the obscure British comedy I’m a Stranger, who deploys his “weapon of words” against the dowdy dullards surrounding him. Morrissey gleaned other important clues, including Warholism, from Films and Filming, a covertly gay magazine that passed as a cineast periodical.

Most of all, though, Morrissey learned from pop stars. Glam rock gripped his imagination through its combination of effeminacy and toughness.

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