Irish New Yorker Aine Ni Cheallaigh exchanges Manhattan for six weeks on the road with iconic singer Morrissey.
She abandons safe and stable concerts on home shores for sensational (and at times scary) South America.
The epic trip involves 13 flights, 14 hotels, and a crazy itinerary that would put off Phileas Fogg.
Aine and wife Nora embark on a dozen concerts spread over six weeks in a continent of wonder.
Pretty impressive for pair who can’t even speak Spanish.
The catalyst for this epic adventure is a tragic one. The death of Nora’s mother forces the pair to reassess life: the meaning of it, the past, the future and the here and now.
The 12 shows are spread across seven countries: Ecuador, Chile, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay and Peru.
The main reason for the journey across the wild and wonder of Latin America is to follow the singer Morrissey.
We join Aine for Moz concerts “bathed in depth and intimacy”, and at times it feels like her heart connects with Morrissey’s and vice versa.
Her book gives us a great insight into the frenzied fan-base this 50-something singer affords for miles and miles south of civilised San Diego.
As well as wondrous concerts with her hero, there are problems too. Illness threatens life and limb, monsoons throw concerts into doubt and a simple thing like getting cash becomes problematic.
During one hilarious encounter Aine and Nora bump into Morrissey guitarist Boz Boorer who himself is wandering the streets looking for the bare essentials.
The book is played out to a backdrop of world crisis. While Aine and friends enjoy the freedom of travel and of enjoying music, fellow gig-goers are massacred in Paris.
This book is more than a simple following-the-star-story. In some ways it’s a heartfelt coming-of-age memoir, of dealing with loss.
I Will See You in Far Off Places is a bit like Che Guevara’s The Motorcycle Diaries - but with dashes to all-night chemists and frantic searches for the only vegan restaurant in town.
I guess every fan has penned a letter to Morrissey. Aine is no different. While waiting for the next Morrissey show she writes to him. Her note a very brief affair. Just the seven pages.
Aine takes us to concerts in venues of all shapes and sizes. She captures atmospheres of beauty. One baking hot open air music festival has “metallic blue skies” as the wait for Morrissey to arrive on stage takes spiritual qualities.
The bond between Moz fans is truly evident in this wonderful tome. The endless queuing in queues the length of Cuba with fans from around the globe; each striving for a hallowed place on the front rail - to be as close to Morrissey as they can be.
From a personal point of view, I love this book as it brings back so many memories of following Morrissey on the road. And the same characters I travelled with in 2009 are still travelling in 2016. With probably not a break in-between.
There’s US fan Chayane, a charmer who once shared a train ride back with me from a Morrissey show in Glasgow. And then there’s Alyssa. A striking tattooed “extremely glamorous and super competent woman” who we meet on page 14.
She stays super competent throughout the book - despite run-ins with over aggressive concert security thugs here there and everywhere.
Written beautifully, with helpings of moving spiritual moments, I Will See You in Far Off Places is more than Morrissey tour memoir.
This is book of love, of friendships, of late-night taxi rides with no-one entirely sure of the end destination.
Aine brings South America to life with stirring attention to detail. We get a great insight into the cultural differences between neighbouring countries.
There are life lessons throughout the book. And a striking one from Morrissey at the climax to one concert:
"Just remember to be true to yourself. Hold onto your friends, be good to your mother. And if you have a God, he or she will watch over you. I love you."
Apparently Morrissey has a copy of this book. You need one too.
I Will See You In Far Off Places by Aine Ni Cheallaigh is published by Capsule Press, Beacon, NY.
And if you want to read more about following the long and winding road to Morrissey, my 2012 book Morrissey International Airport is still buyable on this site. In fact buy my first book The Day I Met Morrissey, and we’ll throw in Int’l Airport too.