List of the Lost - discussion thread (spoilers)

Detritus

Teenage Lightning
My epub file of List of the Lost has just finished downloading. Can't wait to dive in.

Post your thoughts, praise, ranting and raving here.

First thought: the plot (as revealed in the latest TTY statement) is definitely not what I expected and it'll be interesting to see how it unfolds.

Also, "look at them now in their manful splendor" (pg. 1) is a gloriously Morrisseyesque sentence.
 

butley

Well-Known Member
Oh dear. The initial review in The Guardian is pretty accurate. Did they have microwaves in the 70s and what does hair pulled out of one look like? I am halfway through and having trouble working out what is happening.
 

Detritus

Teenage Lightning
Yikes.

The Guardian and The Daily Beast reviews pretty much sum it up. The plot concept is refreshingly original, but unfortunately the narrative is barely there, buried under an incomprehensible, self-indulgent mess of purple prose and political soapboxing so heavy-handed it makes Ayn Rand seem subtle (e.g. one character's non-sequitur, multi-page monologue about cops, the military-industrial complex, compulsory heterosexuality, and a number of other Morrissey pet hates).

As for the actual content of the book, The Daily's Beast's word choice of "bizarre" is certainly apt. Murder, suicide, pedophilia, rape, and several mentally scarring and downright perplexing descriptions of sex acts are just a sample of what the book has to offer in the way of plot points. String it all together with freakishly over-the-top, unnatural dialogue and the aforementioned soapboxing, and you've got Morrissey's debut novel.

Then there's the book's very odd and complicated sexual politics, which I am not at all ready to unpack at the moment...

To break from the criticism, one thing I'm not 100% clear on, plot-wise: The way I understand it, Ezra didn't kill the Fetch in the woods, he merely destroyed one of its "astral shells," to use Morrissey's own term. The Fetch later reappears several times in different guises; once as the drug dealer Harri encounters in the bar, then later as the mother of the murdered boy, which then triggers the chain of events that eventually lead to the deaths of Nails and Justy, then at the end as the figure who appears at Ezra's deathbed. Is it also implied that the Fetch is the hit-and-run driver? Or was that just another example of fate twisting to make good on the Fetch's banishing curse (like the death of Harri's mother, Nails and Justy)?

I'll probably have more thoughts to add tomorrow. I really wanted to like this book, and there are certainly moments that held my interest, but for the most part it's a mess.
 
Last edited:

Qvist

Active Member
The Daily Beast and Guardian reviews sums up nothing, they are both trash. The Guardian one I would not even call a review.

Their main conclusion I may nevertheless turn out to agree with, don't know yet.
 

Detritus

Teenage Lightning
I'm back, with one more thing to add:

This could have been a very different book if (1) Morrissey were more economic with his words (both in the sense that "less is more" and that there is a lot of exposition in lieu of character development, a lot of "telling" vs. "showing") and (2) he didn't take every opportunity to insert himself into the story. Nearly every character is at one point an exaggerated version of himself, and most of the dialogue and narration involves his opinions and hang-ups shoehorned in. Writers often put a bit of themselves into their work, but when it's to this absurd a degree, the story suffers to such an extent that there may not be a point in telling it.
 
Last edited:
A

Anonymous

Guest
Calling him misogonist is lazy journalism. Eliza is smart and the voice of reason. There is nothing negative in the way he writes her. Woman's bodies are less of a mystery than men's because they have been oversold. That's more a statement on how women have been sexualized and men haven't. That speaks to how woman are only viewed and cared for for their bodies. What about the blubbering idiot Dibbs is or Issac? Why doesn't he hate men because of that? It's Moz so therefore whatever he says about woman makes him misogonist. He described the mothers as saints. Are mothers not considered wommen? F**king hate when people just take bits and pieces and not the whole into account. The writing is clunky in parts. Other parts have beautiful passages. It's a solid attempt at a first novel. It's not going to win the Pulitzer. Nor should it but it's good. Not great.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I'm back, with one more thing to add:

This could have been a very different book if (1) Morrissey were more economic with his words (both in the sense that "less is more" and that there is a lot of exposition in lieu of character development, a lot of "telling" vs. "showing") and (2) he didn't take every opportunity to insert himself into the story. Nearly every character is at one point an exaggerated version of himself, and most of the dialogue and narration involves his opinions and hang-ups shoehorned in. Writers often put a bit of themselves into their work, but when it's to this absurd a degree, the story suffers to such an extent that there may not be a point in telling it.
Good for you - I've just been to a central London Waterstone's and they haven't even got the book...
 

Detritus

Teenage Lightning
Additional thoughts, after a bit of sleep:

It's odd that the book takes place in 1970s Boston, yet every character talks like Victorian English aristocracy. The dialogue is so affected, anachronistic, strange. And when each character speaks, their dialogue is indistinguishable from the others'. They have no real defined, unique personalities. As I said above, almost every character seems to be a blank slate for the author to insert himself. This rarely makes a good book.

I am reminded of the scene in Death Proof where the four main characters are seated at a diner discussing guns, cars and movies. Those familiar with Tarantino and his particular fascinations are quick to realize the scene is essentially Tarantino talking to himself. That's what List of the Lost is: Morrissey talking to himself.


Calling him misogonist is lazy journalism. Eliza is smart and the voice of reason. There is nothing negative in the way he writes her. Woman's bodies are less of a mystery than men's because they have been oversold. That's more a statement on how women have been sexualized and men haven't. That speaks to how woman are only viewed and cared for for their bodies. What about the blubbering idiot Dibbs is or Issac? Why doesn't he hate men because of that? It's Moz so therefore whatever he says about woman makes him misogonist. He described the mothers as saints. Are mothers not considered wommen? F**king hate when people just take bits and pieces and not the whole into account. The writing is clunky in parts. Other parts have beautiful passages. It's a solid attempt at a first novel. It's not going to win the Pulitzer. Nor should it but it's good. Not great.
The misogyny in this book is pretty pervasive, and more complicated than these reviews have suggested. A huge aspect of the book is its critique of heterosexist society, the expectation of heterosexuality foisted upon us, and the painful and awkward absurdity of male/female courtship and sexual fulfillment. Over the course of the novel, the reader is hammered with the same sociosexual truths: To be female is to be passive, fawning, desperate, while men invariably offer a world of unambiguous beauty and companionship. The female as a sexual being is perplexing and intimidating at best, and completely revolting at worst (e.g. Eliza is made "oily and disgusting" by sex with Ezra, which she revels in), and the sexual conquest of women is made to be a chore and social duty and not much else, unquestioned by the masses. Sex between men and women is apt to end in embarrassment and disappointment.

The four main characters are frequently presented as the real objects of lust, and they consider each other accordingly, though none of them can quite bring themselves to transgress the rigid rules of masculinity so disdainfully outlined in the text. In fact, the biggest moral of the story seems to be that damaging social mores and laws against homosexuality inevitably ruin lives. The tramp in the woods, embittered by living a closeted life with a woman he despised. Dean Isaac, unable to express his desires freely, which eventually leads to a (potential) rape and murder. Two of the main characters can only openly express their affection for each other away from view. Male love and companionship in all its forms, and society's mishandling of it, is really the core of the book, and it is made abundantly clear that women just tend to take up space.
 
Last edited:
A

Anonymous

Guest
Some interesting critiques there, Detritus, which pretty much echo my own reading.

Also, a note for the wary - after reading the reviews and the excerpted lines that were being ridiculed in the press and online, I was expecting this to be a car-crash. I'm relieved to find that I am actually enjoying this novel. It's certainly not perfect, but it is audacious and interesting.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
This is the most revealing passage in the book:

"A girl laughed at me when we were both thirteen years old, and that widening mouth of laughter, as dumb and sterile as it was, the vicious disdain because I couldn’t measure up … but it was the way she laughed … the way she laughed … the way she laughed … with all that hair like something pulled out of a microwave … like something you’d twirl on a stick … it stayed with me forever, and it triggered my dislike of all women, or, my embarrassment at women."

Explains everything!
 

Detritus

Teenage Lightning
This is the most revealing passage in the book:

"A girl laughed at me when we were both thirteen years old, and that widening mouth of laughter, as dumb and sterile as it was, the vicious disdain because I couldn’t measure up … but it was the way she laughed … the way she laughed … the way she laughed … with all that hair like something pulled out of a microwave … like something you’d twirl on a stick … it stayed with me forever, and it triggered my dislike of all women, or, my embarrassment at women."

Explains everything!
Yes, it's difficult not to read that entire monologue without drawing certain conclusions. There are many, many aspects of this book that read as autobiography. Of course, that is bound to happen when certain constituents of narrative fiction, like characterization, tone and plot take a backseat to accommodate one long author tract.


Some interesting critiques there, Detritus, which pretty much echo my own reading.

Also, a note for the wary - after reading the reviews and the excerpted lines that were being ridiculed in the press and online, I was expecting this to be a car-crash. I'm relieved to find that I am actually enjoying this novel. It's certainly not perfect, but it is audacious and interesting.
I guess one thing for sure is that Morrissey certainly went balls to the wall with this book. Whether that's a good thing is up for debate.

There are so many passages where the words in a sentence seem to have absolutely no relationship to the words that precede or follow them. It's as if he scribbled a bunch of words down on a pieces of paper and tossed them into a hat, and whichever words he drew would be written down as he went along. I can't begin to comment on what Morrissey's thought process was in choosing to stylize his prose in such a way, but if he was trying to be clever, he failed. All of that tricky wordplay is rendered pointless if the story being told gets lost in the self-indulgence.

I think I might be rationalizing here out of frustration, but if List of the Lost is taken as a politically charged, Burroughs-influenced cut-up experiment instead of straight-forward narrative fiction, it sort of works. But I sincerely doubt that is what Morrissey was actually aiming for in writing it.
 
Last edited:

vegan.cro

Banned
Yes, it's difficult not to read that entire monologue without drawing certain conclusions. There are many, many aspects of this book that read as autobiography. Of course, that is bound to happen when certain constituents of narrative fiction, like characterization, tone and plot take a backseat to accommodate one long author tract.
Roman à clef - what LIST OF THE LOST is. Remarkable work. You can't say you understand Morrissey if you don't read this masterpiece or chef d'œuvre.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
New Morrissey LP: "My Bulbous Salutation Is None Of Your Business"

Following the poor reviews of his debut novel, List Of The Lost, Morrissey is hastily issuing a new LP next week. Entitled 'My Bulbous Salutation Is None Of Your Business', the nine song offering is available from Sifters in Burnage, Manchester, on cassette only.

Track listing:

1. Some Bulbous Salutations Are Bigger Than Others
2. That Bulbous Salutation Isn't Funny Anymore
3. The Boy With The Bulbous Salutation In His Side
4. Bulbous Salutation On Fire
5. Don't Make Fun Of Daddy's Bulbous Salutaion
6. I Just Want To See The Bulbous Salutation Happy
7. Bulbous Salutation On The Guillotine
8. Something Is Squeezing My Bulbous Salutation
9. Bulbous Salutations, Here We Come

Sounds like a corker!
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Sex between men and women is apt to end in embarrassment and disappointment.
Yeah?
Well chopping down trees to tell us that seems pretty unnecessary... Figured that out a while ago...

Fleetwood Mac may have made loving fun, but it's fair to say Steven Nicks makes sex sound like a bit of a headache.
Not tonight, Joseph.

Oh and as for women just "taking up space", I think he was just trying to be nice there... Or else it's about that one time when Kristeen sat in his spot?

Can't read the book since it's not written in English, but I'm still curious about Tina's links with the RAF. It does sound sporty. So I'll wait for the illustrated edition.
I'm confident Morrissey can draw as well as he writes!


Has Mr Anacreonte been thanked for his encouragement in the delivery of this...book, btw? I think I heard someone shout "Push, Morrissey! Push! Harder! HARDER!" the other day but I'm not sure what that was about. Maybe some totally different shit we're not privies to?

Anyway...Is it allright if I laugh at Penguin now or is it still too soon?
:( Oh well...pouting time then. (No no, POUTing, I said. Nothing naughty to do with fascists, trust me.)

Still...Sure it was all impotent to turn people on in Poland, but, isn't Nature a bit important too? :(
If Morrissey keeps writing erotic fiction to compensate ("Preposterous!") there won't be a single tree left by 2020. Do think about that before you buy, you guys.

:(

(See breasts in the smiley above, do you? You must have just written a book. You need to tour a bit more...)

:D
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Yeah?
Well chopping down trees to tell us that seems pretty unnecessary... Figured that out a while ago...

Fleetwood Mac may have made loving fun, but it's fair to say Steven Nicks makes sex sound like a bit of a headache.
Not tonight, Joseph.

Oh and as for women just "taking up space", I think he was just trying to be nice there... Or else it's about that one time when Kristeen sat in his spot?

Can't read the book since it's not written in English, but I'm still curious about Tina's links with the RAF. It does sound sporty. So I'll wait for the illustrated edition.
I'm confident Morrissey can draw as well as he writes!


Has Mr Anacreonte been thanked for his encouragement in the delivery of this...book, btw? I think I heard someone shout "Push, Morrissey! Push! Harder! HARDER!" the other day but I'm not sure what that was about. Maybe some totally different shit we're not privies to?

Anyway...Is it allright if I laugh at Penguin now or is it still too soon?
:( Oh well...pouting time then. (No no, POUTing, I said. Nothing naughty to do with fascists, trust me.)

Still...Sure it was all impotent to turn people on in Poland, but, isn't Nature a bit important too? :(
If Morrissey keeps writing erotic fiction to compensate ("Preposterous!") there won't be a single tree left by 2020. Do think about that before you buy, you guys.

:(

(See breasts in the smiley above, do you? You must have just written a book. You need to tour a bit more...)

:D
Damon was not thanked. The editor was thanked.

Call me dim but what does RAF stand for?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
This is the most revealing passage in the book:

"A girl laughed at me when we were both thirteen years old, and that widening mouth of laughter, as dumb and sterile as it was, the vicious disdain because I couldn’t measure up … but it was the way she laughed … the way she laughed … the way she laughed … with all that hair like something pulled out of a microwave … like something you’d twirl on a stick … it stayed with me forever, and it triggered my dislike of all women, or, my embarrassment at women."

Explains everything!
a mess is something you pull out of a microwave or a cute dish youd like to devourer depending on what side of the humasexual coin you fall on. personally nothing in that line or passage is like what eveyones trying to makes the book out as. it didnt read as bad to me. i was a little afraid of the ann ryand like speeches. as to him inserting himself i mean most novels especially debut ones are very much like the person writing them. thomas wolfe had many a great thing to say on the subject which ive quoted here before. hell kerouaca first novel is basically his life with many a scene taken and transposed. its rare that you know so much about an author going into there debut and it would seem like theres a fair bit of assuming going on
 
Top Bottom