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To Throw Away Unopened

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  1,514 ratings  ·  155 reviews

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
Published April 3rd 2018 by Faber Faber
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Average rating 4.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,514 ratings  ·  155 reviews

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Paul Bryant
Jun 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Warning : do not read this while drinking a nice cup of tea or coffee in front of your laptop because you are certain to come across a sentence which will provoke a sharp intake of breath leading to severe choking and a requirement of the Heimlich Manoeuvre or alternately a blurting out of the tea or coffee all over the keyboard of your laptop leading to frantic mopping up and possible taking to computer repair shop and wagging of head by sneery repairman.

Koku Istambulova, allegedly the world’s
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 rounded down. Often feels like a contemporary update on Jean Rhys via Caitlin Moran. Albertine recounts some horribly inappropriate, badly chosen relationships with deceitful and deluded oddballs, routine encounters with casual misogyny (as bad as things clearly still are the 60s and 70s sound horrific), bloody fights with her sister over her dying mum's hospital bed (while she was meant to be attending the launch of her first book), a harrowing cancer ordeal, struggles with motherhood and a ...more
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Viv, I needed your voice in my head more than anything else this week.

May I be as brave and honest and fierce in vulnerability as you are, someday x
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved Albertine's first memoir, the defiant Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys, which included great anecdotes from her years as a young woman in the middle of the male dominated 1970s music industry, as she and her band the Slits negotiated survival in the culture of early Thatcherism, art college, squat living and life on the road. She has a very frank approach to writing, always questioning, frequently demanding answers to the many many challenges life went on ...more
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Before I picked up a copy of this at the Faber Spring Party, I confess I didn’t know the name Viv Albertine. She was the guitarist for the female punk band The Slits, and this is her second memoir. The title comes from the label on a bag she found in her mother’s room after her death in a care home at age 95. When introducing her reading at the event, Albertine said that the book arose from her realization that it was her mother who had made her an angry rebel – who taught her to hate men and to ...more
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Is reading a memoir always so personal? As I read this I found I was comparing my life to date with Ms. Albertine’s. I found myself debating her conclusions. Did I expect a woman like her to be tougher? More resilient? I kept on and somewhere amidst all those personal recollections my judgemental attitude slid away. At one point she asks the reader, “Are you still with me? I’m barely with myself.” Made me smile and recognise how, in many ways, we are alike. After her mother dies it’s as if she i ...more
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-bought
From reading her first memoir, we know what life is like being a member of The Slits, and the London-punk era, but what happens after being a Slit? The truth is very much like anyone who is in their 60s (like me for instance) and who has an aging parent and still getting a grip on 'what is life?' "To Throw Away Unopened" is a very tough book to read, just due to the fact that I'm around the same age as Viv Albertine, and although she's British, and I'm American, we share aging issues, like anyon ...more
Mar 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: women, non-fiction, brits
At times I loved her, and at times, I found her very annoying. I loved her first memoir much better, and at the same time I can´t help thinking that her way of showing herself so completely is actually pretty great. So, I guess I haven´t quite gone through all the mixed feelings with this one. And one thing I do take from this book, is just how it is that our childhoods are so vulnerable and marked by the parents that we have. But that is also what builds us, so any other trauma would not be our ...more
Squirrel Circus
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers group in exchange for an honest review.

When I started this memoir, I had no idea who Viv Albertine was (not a spoiler, she was a founding member of the female punk group The Slits). One of the first great things about this memoir is that you DON'T have to know Albertine, the memoir reveals universal truths. If you do know of her, this memoir sheds some light on how she may have been emotionally primed for the emerging punk scene.

What I
Amanda Brookfield
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Some books give you everything: laughs, insight, heartbreak, historical context, coupled with a strong desire to share several glasses of wine with the author and to talk into the small hours. So it was for me and Viv Albertine's astonishing memoir 'To Throw Away Unopened'. I got to the end, elated from all that she had shared, honoured that she had been bold enough to share it and sad that the last page meant the ride was at an end.

Viv Albertine is best known as one of the pioneering members of
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Holy shit, this book was incredible. A definite case of the right book at the right time, but I think I would have liked it anyway. Albertine is an amazing writer - she cuts right through all the shit, but still with sensitivity and insightfulness. I found this incredibly moving and powerful, and also very sad (of course), but the more powerful for that.
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was interesting—much darker than her last, which had a basically positive message (about re-creating yourself artistically and personally as a middle-aged woman). This starts out full of righteous female anger, very much of its time—not #metoo so much as #allofus. But the second half gets heavy. Albertine has the opportunity to read both her parents' diaries after their deaths, chronicling their angry and abusive relationship before their divorce—a chance most of us should feel fortunate we ...more
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When an author articulates exactly how you think and feel the connection you have with them becomes so real. The relief you feel at not being alone is immense. Viv Albertine digs deep into the best and worst of her self. A truly absorbing and rewarding journey.
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autobiography
Couldn’t put it down
Dina Keratsis
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I thought her first book was a must-read for all young women and I think this one is a must read for aging women who are managing children and mothers while trying to still find oneself.
Niklas Pivic
To be an artist is a guarantee to your fellow humans that the wear + tear of living will not let you become a murderer. Louise Bourgeois, diary entry, 27 August 1984

This is a very human book, intersecting at stories from Viv's life today crossed with dealing with cancer in her body, and how her mother died; the dying of her mother spans an arc throughout the book, interweaving with stories told by Viv.

Reading this book is a more complex thing than reading her prior book, which was a straightforw
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
While her previous book (Which I Loved) was growing up in London, the origins of punk, the Slits, rah-rah female empowerment and fighting for your dream, this is a much more contemplative and darker look at getting older. After their deaths, Albertine has the chance to read both her parents journals (because they were in a custody battle in the 1960s, the courts encouraged both parents to keep track of what was happening in the home) and the contents are truly chilling, leaving her with more que ...more
Rob Adey
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Like her first book, incredible.
Kelvin Gregory
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
To Throw Away Unopened is a memoir about family and relationships, told in vignettes, that is set in a backdrop of her mother’s final months and days and the authors vigil. It is a story of feminism, single motherhood, family struggles, the unique bond the author shares with her mother, and of woman growing up in the 50s, finding her place in the world. It is well written, honest, and peppered with the authors favorite quotes and anecdotes from other women authors. The prose is authentic and eas ...more
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Since her days in The Slits, Viv Albertine has blazed a trail. But she's no celeb removed from the hoi poloi. This memoir is as real as it gets. One moment she is subjecting herself to the most lacerating self scrutiny, the next she is cataloguing what it takes to get herself ready for a date because she needs to say: enough of this madness! Viv's great loves are her mum and her daughter. We need more books like this. Thanks Viv. Can't imagine you scouring your Goodreads reviews but you never kn ...more
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Albertine's second memoir, which literally grew out of her first one. I read them in quick succession. It was interesting because To Throw Away grew out of the book release party for Clothes..., but they are two very different books. To Throw Away is much deeper and closer to the bone, imo. I thought they both were good. I would recommend reading them together as two sections of a whole.
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

4.5 Stars!

“I had so many stressful experiences in the Camden mews house, you’d think I’d have been only too pleased to leave it (seven years of infertility treatment, thirteen operations, eleven IVF attempts, one miscarriage, one ectopic pregnancy, my gall bladder removed, one dose of cancer and one divorce, for starters).”

She has done it again. Albertine shows in here that she clearly has a gift for memoir. Just when you thought all of the best material would have been taken up with her excelle
Vicki Antipodean Bookclub
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
“I tried, but I don’t think I ever truly loved anyone - not even my mother - until I gave birth to Vida. She taught me how to love. ‘That’s my daughter in the water, everything she knows I taught her,’ I used to sing to her. Now I humbly acknowledge it’s the other way round.”
Although my music taste is quite eclectic I’ve never quite made it to punk, so in all honesty I’d never heard of Viv Albertine. Her memoir was lent to me by someone at book club and I was so taken by the first line about
Paula Maguire
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book which I picked up from the library on a whim. I had enjoyed 'Clothes, Music, Boys' very much and loved her frankness. This book mines another rite of passage of her life . That of both her parents dying, and her going through their things - all the memories it throws up and all the secrets she discovers. Structure in a concertina style with each section introduced by a account of her racing to her mother's death bed with her daughter Vita, on the night of her book laun ...more
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As someone who is really close to my mom, who is ageing (aren’t we all?), I found Viv Albertine’s voice refreshing and painfully honest. At times funny (thank goodness) and sweetly humble, it made painful topics about death and family enjoyable to delve into. I look up to Viv for her music and pioneering spirit, so getting advice about such personal life topics from a strong woman I admire was well worth the read. Amazing quotes throughout that made me curious to go down a rabbit hole of other w ...more
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
I thoroughly enjoyed Viv Albertine's first book Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys and since I'm a completist and admire her as a groundbreaking artist, I put her second book immediately on my reading list. I had no expectations except I wouldn't have been surprised if this one wasn't quite up to the first. To Throw Away Unopened focuses on Viv's post Slits years but I found it to be a lovely read and beautifully crafted with "teasers" at the beginning of each chapt ...more
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is almost as good as her last one, which was great. Brutally honest and funny.
Jessica Gorringe
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I hope to, one day, be as honest as Viv Albertine. Excellent read!!
Jun 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great writer, so honest and open, there are points where you don’t know whether to laugh or cry
Heather Bond
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking, relatable, I loved it!
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Born Sydney, Australia. French/Corsican father, Swiss mother. Brought up in North London (Muswell Hill). Quite poor. Comprehensive school. Favourite subjects, buying records; clothes, boys, art, English. Age17 went to art school. Dropped out and worked at Dingwalls, music venue Camden Town. Went to another art school met Mick Jones, saw The Sex Pistols first show. Bought Horses, Patti Smith. Dropp ...more

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There's something great about a paperback book: They're perfect book club choices, you can throw them in your bag and go, and they've been out in...
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“Every decision you make in life sends you off down a path that could turn out to be a wrong one. A couple of careless decisions somewhere along the line, that’s all it takes to waste years – but then you can’t creep along being so cautious that you don’t have adventures. It’s difficult to get the balance right” 4 likes
“Brian Wilson went to bed for three years. Jean-Michel Basquiat would spend all day in bed. Monica Ali, Charles Bukowski, Marcel Proust, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Tracey Emin, Emily Dickinson, Edith Sitwell, Frida Kahlo, William Wordsworth, René Descartes, Mark Twain, Henri Matisse, Kathy Acker, Derek Jarman and Patti Smith all worked or work from bed and they’re productive people. (Am I protesting too much?) Humans take to their beds for all sorts of reasons: because they’re overwhelmed by life, need to rest, think, recover from illness and trauma, because they’re cold, lonely, scared, depressed – sometimes I lie in bed for weeks with a puddle of depression in my sternum – to work, even to protest (Emily Dickinson, John and Yoko). Polar bears spend six months of the year sleeping, dormice too. Half their lives are spent asleep, no one calls them lazy. There’s a region in the South of France, near the Alps, where whole villages used to sleep through the seven months of winter – I might be descended from them. And in 1900, it was recorded that peasants from Pskov in northwest Russia would fall into a deep winter sleep called lotska for half the year: ‘for six whole months out of the twelve to be in the state of Nirvana longed for by Eastern sages, free from the stress of life, from the need to labour, from the multitudinous burdens, anxieties, and vexations of existence’.‡ Even when I’m well I like to lie in bed and think. It’s as if” 4 likes
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