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Under the Spotlight: List of the Lost



AS A WRITER, I know what it is like to place your work into the hands of the audience. When art is released, be it novel, album or painting, the creator instinctively knows that their creation will be weighed, judged and examined. The spotlight will shine on every word and detail. I am almost certain that when Morrissey released his first fictional novel, List of the Lost, he knew that his work would be pulled apart for dissection. As a fan of his work in music and as someone who is passionate about literature (from both the reading and writing point of view) I knew I would be reading this release with avid interest. I did – I enjoyed it.


I ignored the main body of reviews that flooded the media when the book was released. When I know I am going to read something, I want to begin primarily without other people’s projections, criticisms and assertions about the work. I read List of the Lost from a blank canvas – from a place of knowing very little about the story itself. I already knew Morrissey could write beautifully, as his first literary release Autobiography testifies to, so I already had a certain expectation that this would be well written.

List of the Lost unfolds and resolves over 118 pages, yet this shortness does not detract from the fullness of the story itself. Focusing on four central characters (Nails, Harri, Ezra and Justy) as they experience one summer of their lives in the heat and turmoil of the 1970’s, the reader is immediately drawn into their world as they train for an upcoming relay race (all boys bonded through their love of sport, and each other) whilst facing the biggest questions that life can ask of anybody: What does it mean to be alive? What is the meaning of death?

These central themes of death and the internal struggle to find meaning are portrayed through the experiences of Nails, Harri, Ezra and Justy as they navigate their way through a summer of loss, grief, fear – and a surprising confrontation to the supernatural. There were creepy moments intertwined within the story, too, an aspect that I enjoyed very much.

List of the Lost is was not easy to define. So many releases are easy to pigeon-hole and label, but Morrissey has cleverly managed to out-run the genre label but writing something that appears to work its way through many themes, always shifting out of grasp once you think you have a strong hold of what the story is about. At first, I believed it to be drama about friendship, but then after several dark twists and turns, we find that we are exploring death. Then the supernatural elements come creeping in, and before you realise it, you have experienced more in five pages than you do in 300 of many other story attempts.

Morrissey is a master of words, in my opinion. This story reads like a classic, something from an age of long ago, yet the fact that it has been written in 2015 is testament to Morrissey’s continuing ability to be only himself, and not altar or shift with the changing tides of fashion, popularity or audience-pleasing.

List of the Lost certainly has something for the fan of the fictional novel. I am a horror fan myself, and there was enough darkness seeping in these pages to keep me reeled in. This aside, it is simply a beautiful, yet twisted story. Hard to define, impossible to categorise, but a pleasure to read.

I hope Morrissey has plans to pen future releases in literature. Maybe his work and style is not for everybody, but I personally enjoyed it very much.



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