The Awfully Big Adventure: Michael Jackson in the Afterlife
January 29, 2019 | by Dan Papps
On 4 April Faber will publish The Awfully Big Adventure: Michael Jackson in the Afterlife by revered writer, broadcaster, and cultural critic Paul Morley. This is the follow-up to the Sunday Times bestseller and Radio 4 Book of the Week The Age of Bowie.
Michael Jackson died on 25 June 2009 in Los Angeles. The one-time King of Pop was preparing for one last assault on the mainstream with a proposed fifty-night run of shows at the O2, London (thereby trumping his arch-rival, Prince, who had just concluded his legendary ‘21 Nights’). His exhaustion and paranoia were an open secret. He had lived many lives and inhabited many bodies: P. T. Barnum, Fred Astaire and Peter Pan in one mortal coil. Jackson’s death was mourned by hundreds of millions, but it was almost as if he had been dead for some time already. And in his death, in vivid Technicolor, we relived the dreams and nightmares that we had all projected on to him as a celebrity for four decades.
Paul Morley’s biographical portrait looks at how we turned the most outrageous child-star talent of the late twentieth century into a monster; how Michael Jackson’s decline soundtracked the end of pop and the end of American imperialism; and how his once staggeringly modern and funky music became secondary to the dysfunctional freak show of a vulnerable man literally disintegrating – a tragedy so Shakespearean in scale, it obscures the legacy of the last of the great Song and Dance men.
Published for the tenth anniversary of the singer’s death, The Awfully Big Adventure is a rare piece of pop-cultural alchemy that cuts through myth as only a writer as mercurial as Paul Morley can.
Praise for Paul Morley:
‘One of the great pop writers. You might even call him the Bowie of rock journalism.’ Guardian
‘The Brian Eno of the sentence, setting the whole page buzzing with oblique strategies: the missing link, maybe, between Kenneth Tynan and John Lydon.’ Time Out
‘Morley’s triumph is to know there is no such thing as the definitive story: new generations of fans will continue to make it up as they go along.’ New Statesman