paul morley's memoir, on the other hand, may be titled Nothing, but it's actually about everything. Loosely inspired by the suicides of his father and Joy Division singer Ian Curtis -- who hung himself the day before he was to fly to Toronto to start the band's first North American tour -- the book is a postmodern post-mortem full of bravura and bravado.
One moment poetic, the next absurd, Morley posits that nothing really matters because nothing is important. Read that sentence again.
Morley can be infuriating and obscure. He plays tricks like telling the reader he's lying, making antithetical points in the same sentence, introducing fragments as chapters from a book he's never gotten around to writing, and going off on tangents in footnotes that are more interesting than the main text. But he offsets these with flashes of real profundity.
Whether remembering his soul-crushing schoolboy days or his brushes with the famous, it's his father's death that haunts him like a ghost -- a ghost with a morbid sense of humour.
Nothing (brilliant title: "What are you reading?" "Nothing.") is also difficult and slow-moving. In fact, with its non-linear narrative, one can jump in just about anywhere and still follow what the writer's rambling on about. How about "There's nothing in life as confusing as death... except perhaps Mickey Mouse's feet"?
Morley repeatedly repeats things, often coming across as a stunt writer. He constantly frets how the book will end, but despite all this, and after numerous false finishes, Nothing happens.
Well, yes, something. You cry.
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NOTHING by Paul Morley (Faber and Faber), 426 pages, $24.99 paper. Rating: NNNN