Who Stole Morrissey's Book?by Helen
Being a bit handy with a pen, in the early 80s, Morrissey wrote two books - The New York Dolls (1981) and 1983's James Dean Is Not Dead (I won't insult your intelligence by telling you what those books were about). However, once he'd become A Singer, Moz expressed embarrassment of these tomes. This may, partially, explain why these books are so very hard to find.
There should be copies of them in the British Library. Every publisher in Britain - including, even, the humble fanzine writer (who are a bit thin on the ground these days) - has to submit copies of everything they produce to the British Library for posterity: a deposit of the nation's writerly output. Therefore, there should be copies of Morrissey's books in the British Library.
Except there aren't.
The British Library's catalogue entry for James Dean Is Not Dead (not subtitled But The Queen Is) says that the St Pancras copy (where the British Library's reading rooms are) was listed as "missing" in 1987.
Imagine the scenario: a pale, slightly spotty youth in a Meat Is Murder T-shirt shuffles into the St Pancras reading room. They submit their request for James Dean Is Not Dead and the slim volume is retrieved for them from a quiet, dusty shelf in the basement. Our young hero finds a shadowy corner of the room where they pore over Morrissey's hallowed words. What brave phraseology! What dashing adjectival clauses! The youth's palms are slick with nervous sweat as a terrible plan enters their excitement-fogged mind. Would anyone notice...?
Taking a deep breath, the acne-clad teenager scuttles from the library on awkward, coltish legs. The librarians at the desk are too busy discussing the merits of Dewey
Decimal Classification to notice the bespectacled reader make a break for freedom with Morrissey's book. Then, on the pavement outside, our herostops in a puddle and breathlessly presses the book to their pounding chest. They look over their shoulder to see if they've been followed, and is swallowed by the crowd at the mouth of the Underground station and vanishes from view.
There is another version of events (as untrue as the first, of course). It's 1987 and The Smiths Are Dead. In a cunning disguise of flat cap and his grandad's glasses, a tall figure heads purposefully to the St Pancras reading rooms. He requests the sole copy of James Dean Is Not Dead and, in a shadowy corner, groans inwardly at his youthful incarnation's uncrystalised talent. Oh, the unwieldy riot of adverbs! Oh, the tenuous metaphors! He doesn't want this archived in the nation's memory, so our heavy-browed protagonist furls the slim volume and stuffs it into the inside pocket of his heavy tweed overcoat. The librarians at the desk are too busy discussing UKMARC cataloguing to see the man stride past them, his unfeasibly blue eyes sparkling with triumph.
Outside in the drizzle, on the greasy pavement, Morrissey pauses for a moment. He looks behind him to see if he's been followed, and then his heart squirms with slight sadness as his book slides along the gutter and down the litter-choked drain.
Read the full text of James Dean Is Not Dead by clicking here.
Read the full text of New York Dolls by clicking here.