There's a fishy report going around that Morrissey's long-anticipated autobiography, reportedly due out in British stores on Monday, has been canceled due to an argument with Penguin at the 11th hour. Mind you, this is a book that hasn't been promoted, can't be found online, and something Penguin people had no idea about when asked about it earlier this year. Hence the fishiness.
"Although Morrissey's Autobiography was set to be available throughout the UK on September 16th, a last-minute content disagreement between Penguin Books and Morrissey has caused the venture to collapse," That's the cryptic statement publications like the BBC and The Telegraph are citing as proof that the book has been scrapped. The statement, reportedly from Morrissey himself, was posted on Morrissey's "semi-official" fan site called true-to-you.net. Penguin has declined to comment to both the BBC and The Telegraph about the statement.
That's a little bit suspect. We did our own Internet sleuthing, and here's why this seems like the whole thing might be a hoax.
There Was No Hype
The odd thing is that there has been virtually no hype regarding the Smiths lead singer's tell-all — it doesn't appear on Penguin's "coming soon" website. A search for "Morrissey" on Penguin's U.K. page doesn't yield a single press release or other information on the book. The book also doesn't appear on Amazon's US and U.K. sites, either, as virtually all other books do right before publication.
To be fair, we weren't really looking at Amazon and Penguin's sites for the Morrissey book before this morning's news broke. So, yes, there's a possibility that they've all been wiped and that Penguin and Amazon are just that efficient. But the revelation was so sudden and so recent that there should have been an Internet footprint of the book's existence, however doomed and fledgling that existence may have been.
Penguin's "Secret" Book Deal Might Not Even Exist
Book publishers love talking about their upcoming books. And Penguin has been relatively silent about what's happening with this title. In fact, most of the news about the book has been unofficial things Morrissey has said. In 2011 he told the BBC he was done with the 600-page tome and that he'd like it to be a Penguin classic which is completely different than "I signed a deal with Penguin."
And there where whispers that he'd publish in 2012—and again Penguin was silent. But further, there was no industry-wide news that a deal had even been reached. If we're going to shout from the rooftops that Tina Brown has a book coming out, surely there'd be some big news event that Penguin signed Morrissey. This past January, Penguin folks in the U.S. and across the pond said nothing was on the table. Capital New York's Joe Pompeo reported then that Penguin people didn't even acknowledge a deal:
But two spokespeople in Penguin's New York headquarters said they had no knowledge of any plans for publication.
A spokeswoman for Penguin's U.K. arm was a little more revealing when reached via email about Morrissey's latest signal to fans about the book.
"How nice that he seemed to say yes," said the spokeswoman, Rosie Glaisher. "Here's hoping."
But she added: "Nothing on the schedule at this time."
And then there's this comment to The Guardian this morning:
Penguin has refused to confirm or deny that the book was due to be published, or even the existence of the reported deal with the singer.
The Lack of Evidence
If the autobiography really is real and really is canceled, and was really supposed to be out on Monday, copies of the book would have had to be in stores' backrooms already and floating on editors' desks. The "official" statement says no review copies were handed out (convenient, but not true; there are always some review copies). A last-minute fallout would place a premium on someone with a stolen copy, and there would be at least one lucky soul on Instagram or Twitter extolling his/her possession of a Morrissey galley. We don't even have official book art, which usually comes out months before a book is sold.
That said, bravo Penguin and bravo Morrissey. Well played. I've never been more interested in a Morrissey autobiography.