List of the Lost by Morrissey

Book Review by Alan Bett | 26 Oct 2015
Book title: List of the Lost
Author: Morrissey

Never meet your heroes. And now, never read their books it seems. I have, and heaven knows I’m miserable now. In List of the Lost, Morrissey – a 56 year old virgin novelist, untouched by editorial hands – delivers this absurd tale, built around the blunt sporting metaphor of a track relay team. The text, unfettered by grammar yet encumbered with juvenile alliteration, is impenetrable (as is one character in a hilariously confused sex scene). This inscrutability is unrelated to any depth or complexity, but instead simple illiteracy – the author's mock-classic prose reading like Mills & Boon on ketamine.

Working through its 128 pages feels like freefalling through a garbled dream. Time and place remain opaque and characterisation stretches barely beyond names, while single sentences stretch over half pages. Worst of all is a godlike ‘voice of Morrissey’ narration which digresses into diatribes on his favourite subjects – vegetarianism, establishment, monarchy – like a thematic stalker, dragging the reader so far from the narrative path we forget where we were.

It is tempting to believe this is grand jest rather than pretentious folly. That Morrissey will announce that reversing the first and last words of each sentence transforms this unfinished puzzle into some sort of masterpiece. But, tragically no. The truth is that if 100 monkeys with 100 typewriters will eventually produce Hamlet, a solitary baboon could turn this out in a week. 

Out now, published by Penguin, RRP £7.99