Morrissey’s first novel, “List of the Lost” is a bizarre and misogynistic ride
LONDON – In all fairness, Penguin printed a health warning on the back cover.
“Beware of the novelist… intimate and intrusive… pompous and prophetic airs,” the quote from Morrissey reads. “Here is the fact of fiction … an American tale where, naturally, evil conquers good, and none live happily ever after.”
The ellipses are all his. Inside, Morrissey’s debut novel continues in the same baffling, stilted style – it often feels like a stream of consciousness.
Around the simple story of a dazzling but doomed track relay team, the former frontman of The Smiths hung dozens of divergent mini-speeches touching on the pet hatreds that have been gnawing at its cogs since the 1980s, including the royal family, the meat industry, and Margaret Thatcher.
This is more of a short story than a full-fledged novel, at less than 120 pages, and that’s just as good, since Morrissey’s winding walk isn’t interrupted by chapters or obvious structure. .
Sometimes the writing is ridiculously awkward; the characters are finely drawn; and the plot twists are so simple, they turn out to be more confusing than shocking. None of these issues are the most glaring issue with List of lost, Nevertheless. This distinction goes to the extraordinary tone of misogyny that permeates all of history.
The four young sportsmen at the center of the book, Ezra, Nails, Harri and Justy, are portrayed in lustful detail at every turn. The “wide-eyed girls” in the crowd are confronted with “the erotic reality of deltoid deities who have no inhibitions in fully occupied and appreciated bodies.”
The women we meet invariably do not deserve these magnificent specimens. We are told that our poor heroes are getting letters from fans of ‘girls in the’ me unkind ‘division who have written too openly from afar. One of the lucky ones, who manages to put an athlete to bed, is “Tracey too makeup, incredibly heavy and old-fashioned.”
It may be a coincidence that some of the partly female characters are sketched out with disdain, but Morrissey also meditates more explicitly on the female. “Although a man’s publicly avowed lust should always appear ridiculous and prepubescent, a woman’s lust is primarily childish and desperate – as if they know there is something they know nothing about, and that itch takes over. aggressive, “he writes.” Women are less of a mystery because their methods and their bodies have been oversold, while the male body speaks like the voice stops. “
The women mentioned in this book are almost universally striking and obsessed with sex. One man complains that his wife “said she was dying of sexual neglect”, another “winked with a clear conscience that he finally had time to find a woman – l utterly insensitive assumption that a carefully preserved ponytail slave might still be out there to wait.
One of the few exceptions is former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who is described in even less flattering terms by the only fully formed female character: “I hate womb men like that…… and look, if she becomes Prime Minister, she will not hire any woman in her government. Why do I care? I mean, just look at his face.
While the women in the book are mostly repulsive, the men are magnetic and sexually charged, with Morrissey reveling in the electricity of any physical contact between the athletes. Even the Cartwright brothers in the classic TV western Windfall are said to “possess a natural virility and a capable masculinity”.
Most extraordinary of all, one of the characters suggests that Jesus Christ also preferred the company of men. “There is no sign of Jesus getting hot under the collar of the girl next door, is there?” But he certainly had his men around him.
While the sexual tension between the young men is palpable, the two older male characters we meet also harbor lustful impulses locked in. One of them even grabs Ezra’s manhood. The word penis is never used in favor of some spectacular euphemisms, including the “painful frenzy” of Ezra’s “bulbous greeting” in a sex scene.
In fact, the mixed metaphors are some of the funniest parts of the book. Cryptographers are still working on this line: “Politicians marvel at the submissive gullibility of the electorate, and America’s starving judges have remained beagle-billed on their benches; Father Temps, blindfolded, always ready to throw the book and run up the mast.
Morrissey makes some literary references in his first work of fiction, including to Shakespeare, and Ezra’s last name is eventually revealed to be Pound, in honor of the great American poet and publisher who worked to improve the writing of TS Eliot, James Joyce, and Ernest Hemingway. Obviously there hasn’t been any Ezra Pound in the last few days to help our Moz.