Great news: After a “content dispute” last month (more on that later), singer-songwriter Morrissey has resolved his tiff with Penguin Classics. The famed publishing house will now release his autobiography on Oct. 17 in the U.K. and Europe, which is frankly huge for everyone who loves The Smiths and/or the output of the ensuing 26-year solo career. True To You, the official Morrissey fan site who broke the story yesterday, also notes that while no deal has been reached with a U.S. publisher, the cleverly titled Autobiography will be made available as an ebook for those American fanatics (read: me) who can’t wait.
It’s been a bizarre saga since Morrissey began writing in 2011, and the whole thing looked dead in the water last month, when the so-called content dispute halted the project on the eve of its publication. It made little sense, since Morrissey’s status as a musical legend ensures that Autobiography will be a best-seller. Unlike many other British idols, though, Morrissey is decidedly shy and standoffish. It’s created an aura of mystery around him—we know he’s sad, we know he’s vegetarian and we know he’s been saddled with an image of celibate, muddled sexuality- and that has only ramped up the anticipation for the book. Plus, we’re bound to find out so much about the riff between he and Johnny Marr.
Would Penguin really have found any of the content objectionable? The more titillating the better, right? In my mind, I can only imagine three explanations for what went down. The first is that Penguin got super prudish at the last minute. For all the reasons enumerated above, that feels highly unlikely. The second is that Penguin might have preferred not to publish it under their Classics brand (which usually contains, well, classics), and Morrissey insisted. (Morrissey has a history of being difficult; most recently, he canceled a guest slot on Jimmy Kimmel’s show because he refused to appear with the Duck Dynasty cast.) The third explanation, though, is that Morrissey’s book contains material so odd, so depressing and so controversial, that it’s bound to elicit major reactions even by rock memoir standards.
Take, for example, a quote he gave the Hollywood Reporter in February when asked about the book:
I’ve never felt fully present in my own life. I’ve always felt like a ghost drifting through. I’m not actually flesh. So autobiography is a therapeutic act of self-loyalty, even if, like me, you end up with chapters of self-disgust rather than reams of narcissism. If the book doesn’t come out soon, I’ll burn it.
That’s all the indication we need. This book is going to be unlike anything we’ve seen in the genre, because it won’t be a celebration of self. Forget the sex and drugs and the reckless lifestyle; that was never his bag. Instead, he’s going to shock you with everything that happened inside his brain, in the moments of stillness. Like Morrissey himself, the book will be introspective, anguished, slightly strange and completely fascinating. I can’t wait.