I Started Something I Couldn't Finish

In the wake of Morrissey's award-winningly awful sex-scene novel, List of the Lost, Ava Forbes examines some of the other musicians who have traded the guitar for the pen

30th November 2015

Morrissey’s step into the world of fiction has left him somewhat red faced as it was revealed this week it was revealed that his debut novel, List Of The Lost, is the frontrunner for Literary Review’s ‘Bad Sex In Fiction’ award. After weeks of criticism since its release in late September, the novel is considered by many to be a flop and a disappointment with sales mainly driven by fans wanting to laugh at his self indulgent style of writing. Writing in the Guardian, one critic described the book as an “unpolished turd” which will no doubt be something that is hard for the iconic lyricist to stomach. Of course, Morrissey isn’t the only acclaimed musician to attempt in becoming an author…

Many musicians fall into the trap of being self indulgent. In 2003, Madonna released a children’s book, The English Roses, after her kabbala teacher suggested that she impart some of her wisdom and teach us all what we already knew from every other cliched children’s book - not to judge people on their appearances. As you would expect the book is a patronising, Paltrow-esque bid to play the “yummy mummy” with main character Binah (which means understanding in Hebrew) becoming the subject of great envy from a group of girls called “The English Roses” (after whom the book is named) because she is prettier than them. After Binah’s fairy godmother shows the girls that she is actually very poor, they take sympathy, become her friend and they all live happily ever after. Geri Halliwell also followed this trend with her Ugenia Lavender series which follows the adventures of Ugenia (who is based on Halliwell as a child) and her adventures with her friends Bronte, Rudy and Trevor.

I wish that the novel wasn't a 128 page, self indulgence bore

Going from the incredibly irritating to the bizarre, we find Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson and his novel ‘The Adventures of Lord Iffy Boatrace’ described by Kerrang to be “a satirical swipe at fetishism among the upper classes”. According to Dickinson the publishers of the book decided to print it without reading it due to Iron Maiden’s successful album sales. The book is a classic amongst fans and sold 40,000 copies when it was released. Courtney Love released a manga series called Princess Ai who is from the imaginatively named “Ai Land” which is riddled with war and how she somehow finds her way to Tokyo. Reviews have branded Love’s endeavours as boring suggesting the only thing that kept them reading were the pictures.

The novel is considered by many to be a flop and a disappointment with sales mainly driven by fans wanting to laugh at his self indulgent style of writing

Of course, there are some musicians that have produced some fantastic examples of prose. Nick Cave’s And The Ass Saw The Angel (1989) and The Death of Bunny Munro (2009) have received praise from fans and critics alike and have seen him go into filmmaking. Leonard Cohen’s 1966 Beautiful Losers is described by the Telegraph to be “one of the best-known experimental novels of the 1960s”. Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids published in 2010 which follows the story of her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe has won numerous literary awards (for more than bad sex scenes) and is currently being turned into a TV series.

It seems like with anything. When it comes to musicians turning to writing, you are going to get a mixed bag. As a big Morrissey fan, I wish that the novel wasn’t 128 page, self indulgence bore. Considering he has hinted that he is no longer going to tour or release any more music, List Of The Lost has left a bitter taste in many mouths.

Ava Forbes

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