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SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARDS 2018
What was I fighting for? Even now I’m not sure. Something so old and so deep, it has no words, no shape, no logic.
Every memoir is a battle between reality and invention – but in her follow up to Clothes, Music, Boys, Viv Albertine has reinvented the genre with her unflinching honesty.
To Throw Away Unopened is a fearless dissection of one woman’s obsession with the truth – the truth about family, power, and her identity as a rebel and outsider. It is a gaping wound of a book, both an exercise in blood-letting and psychological archaeology, excavating what lies beneath: the fear, the loneliness, the anger. It is a brutal expose of human dysfunctionality, the impossibility of true intimacy, and the damage wrought upon us by secrets and revelations, siblings and parents.
Yet it is also a testament to how we can rebuild ourselves and come to face the world again. It is a portrait of the love stories that constitute a life, often bringing as much pain as joy. With the inimitable blend of humour, vulnerability, and intelligence that makes Viv Albertine one of our finest authors working today, To Throw Away Unopened smashes through layers of propriety and leads us into a new place of savage self-discovery.
I loved Viv Albertine's new book. There’s such raw honesty and compelling intensity in her work. This is the true story of mothers and daughters: love, rage and absolutely no sentimentality. And about, too, being a woman in the world.
Genuinely startling ... There are multiple books wriggling inside its cover: a family history, a meditation on grief, tracts on female beauty and on anger ... Albertine's writing is not indulgently cathartic but fierce, direct, unashamed. She masks nothing. The result is a book that does for the family memoir what is predecessor did for the rock autobiography: scythes through the myths, the distortions, the adornments and finds the rich, distinctive stories underneath.
A chronicle of outsiderness ... Driven by a relentless honesty about herself and the dysfunctional family dynamic she was born into, which she lays bare with an almost forensic eye ... Her conversational style of writing is lullingly deceptive, allowing the revelations, when they come, to explode like well-placedtime bombs in the narrative ... Searingly honest ... A painstaking – and painful – dissection of her own familial fallout ... Viscerally unsettling.
I’m smitten with Viv Albertine’s beautiful, tough, ribald, unsparing memoir. It’s so rare to encounter writing this frank and fearless about love, violence, loneliness, mess of all kinds ... To Throw Away Unopened is a book for all ages and experiences.
To Throw Away Unopened is crackling with anger, and brimming with insight into the dirty business of art, family and being a woman in a hostile world.
Viv Albertine captures the texture, habits, and tics of working class life in long-ago mid-century London. But, pivoting on a duet of startling end-of-life revelations, To Throw Away Unopened also shows us the power and possibility of change. In any medium, Viv Albertine is a visionary cultural force.
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