What is it about Morrissey that inspires such cultish devotion? As the title implies, Saint Morrissey is more hagiography than biography, but above all, it's a sweet and tender mash note by an unabashed obsessive.
Fittingly, the story begins not by retelling Morrissey's path to stardom, but by detailing Simpson's path to lovesick infatuation: his memories of seeing the Smiths play "This Charming Man" on TV in 1983, recounted with exacting precision. "He was singing at me, right at me, in the most indecently direct and disarmingly fey way," Simpson remembers breathlessly. Taken at face value, this all might seem stalker-level creepy, if Simpsonthe gay British writer who achieved eternal notoriety by coining the term "metrosexual" in the '90sdidn't have such a flair for comic timing. Insufferable Oscar Wilde quotes aside, the whole thing reads like one very longand very funnystand-up routine.
Simpson dissects lyrics, album covers, and formative influences with the back-and-forth neuroticism most often displayed on Internet fansites. He revisits key episodes in Morrissey's life and attempts amateur psychoanalysis to unravel his mysteries, including that famous long-running claim of celibacy. But by the end, one gets the feeling that Simpson wrote the book with Moz in mindliterally. It's easy to imagine that part of Simpson hopelessly hoped that Morrissey would read the book and come out thinking that Simpsonwitty, clever, charming, disarmingwas his perfect match.
Saint Morrissey: A Portrait of This Charming Man by an Alarming Fan
by Mark Simpson
Touchstone, 257 pp., $19.95
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