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To Throw Away Unopened

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  610 ratings  ·  65 reviews
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 fear
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Published April 3rd 2018 by Faber Faber
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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
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Rebecca
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
Lee
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
Helen
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
Tosh
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
Natalie
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
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
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Lisa
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
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
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Lauren
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
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.
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
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Julie
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autobiography
Couldn’t put it down
Gretchen
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.
Patrick
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.
Tina
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.
Gilly Hanner
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read Viv Albertine's memoirs out of order, that is to say that I read To Throw Away Unopened- her second installment, first. It was apropos, welcome, as was her earlier work (Clothes, Music, Boys) when I read it.
In Albertine’s ‘To Throw Away Unopened’ she frames her story with the death of her mother and the complexity of the mother/daughter bond, and the love/hate dichotomy of sisterhood. She succinctly relates the ever constant presence of her anger and then roots out the seeds of it. Thi
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Jeff
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
With the strapping willfulness of a 14 year old ready to make any mistake, the narrator of Viv Albertine's memoir, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys (2014) dismisses her tearful father, who is estranged from the family, when he comes to visit his daughters at their middle school. We're on page 34; it's 1968. Albertine is giving us only the most impressionistic sketch of a young girl who with a friend would take a train two years later to get mixed up with heroin-us ...more
Andrea Hurt
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Viv's first book is a rollicking journey, twisting through punk rock adventures and ending in unexpected places. Her second book picks up where her first left off. It's a much more focussed book, examining her relationship with her parents, sister and daughter. Charting the story of her Mother's final hours, it also recounts in more detail her Father's death. For fans of her first book, it also has more dating mishap stories plus a simply wonderful tale of middle aged woman rage and a young man ...more
Macclesfield Library
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Macclesfield Library Book Group, received free copies of Viv Albertines, "To Throw Away Unopened," from the Reading Agency, in exchange for an honest review. Here are our thoughts:

“Must give it a try, didn’t think it was my kind of book, but enjoyed it and her style of writing.”

“I found Viv’s writing style very easy to read, and the family dynamics were so gritty and honest, which is refreshing. I hadn’t expected to enjoy this book, and didn’t really know much about her career.”

“It didn’t reall
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Palula Clarkelle
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Viv says herself quotes toward the end, “burn the diaries!” She says she wants to spare her daughter the agony of reading her grandparents sorrowful, tragic diaries detailing their divorce—why didn’t she spare us? I adore her writing, but feel there were many directionless moments.
The final five or six chapters are beautifully written musings about regretting all that could have been in her relationship with her mother. I love hearing her reflection about how women in England in the post-war er
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Eliza
May 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Seems to be more a necessary catharsis for the author than a necessary read - I read directly after her first memoir and may have benefited from not doing so. There are some interesting aspects and I admire Albertine’s continued ‘honesty’ and enjoyed the peppering of quotes from various books, articles etc but this sometimes feels a little forced. Largely though the drama didn’t live up to the promise and the pivotal act regarding her sister seemed petty - clearly the result of years of ongoing ...more
Shana
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is as true an attempt at honest reflection as I have ever seen. I mean, the details of the author's life, character and family members are individual, but she really has written a complex love story account, an UNFLINCHING, complex account of her life with her mother with all contradictions, ugle truths regrets and memories. It is also a farewell to her sister I think. But her voice is so her, and yet she's given me a lot to ponder on the specific dysfunctions of my own family, and in gener ...more
Dorie
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
To Throw Away Unopened
By Viv Albertine
2018
Faber & Faber

When Viv Albertine's mother passed on, she was left with the task of cleaning up her home and sorting through her belongings. She find a zipper bag with the words 'To throw away unopened' amongst her them, and so began the beginning of this wonderful memoir.

When her parents went through a child custody battle i the 1960s, the court encouraged each parent to keep a seperate journal, and both did. After both parents have died, Viv acquir
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Jenny Esots
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A memoir that is not afraid to examine a painful past.
This writing analysis is mainly brought about by the death of the authors 95 year old mother.
The relationships are far from conventional.
The death bed scene is strangely hilarious and wild, you have to read it to know why.
The death bed scenes are interspersed throughout.
The grief and trying to make sense of everything, questions that you only think of when that person is gone.
Throughout the years Viv manages to question everything.
The role of
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Amy
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
This is Viv Albertine's second memoir and I would argue it is better then Clothes, Music, Boys.
I adore the experimentation and complexity of narration in this memoir. Much like Patti Smith's memoir writing, Albertine uses photos and fragmented narration to discuss grief and the death of her mother.
Albertine's memoir is intersected with sections from the diaries of her mother and father. All three accounts clash and contradict each other which highlights the myth making in one's life and multiple
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Nico
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Once again Viv Albertine has produced a beautifully written, thought provoking and searingly honest autobiography. She captures the essence of the 50’s through to modern day. I loved the way the book was written interspersed with photographs and numerous interesting references. It’s poignant, funny, heart breaking at times and it captured me from the first sentence to the last. I loved her first book and this is written in the same vein but it’s also totally different. Her attention to detail an ...more
Shannon McClatchey
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow! After reading (and enjoying) her first memoir 'Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys,' I knew the subject matter of her second memoir would be heavier. She deals with the mixed emotions of getting older, the aftermath of her divorce and her mother dying/death with raw, intense honesty. It's not easy stuff to read about, especially if you are revisiting these subjects, but I also related to that process of vulnerability, grief and healing that is a necessary part o ...more
Julia Price
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: in-my-home-stack
This book hit home for so many of my own thoughts, emotions and family interactions, even though my story is fairly different from Ms. Albertine's. Her voice is incredibly natural and real and almost feels like someone has written down the words I'm thinking. I've had this connection with only one other author, Milan Kundera, when I was 20. I loved her previous book about her punk days life transitioning into the life of a suburban wife and mother. With that, I lived vicariously through her. But ...more
 wade
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Across the board I generally don't like memoirs but never say never. I really like this one. Two girls (one the author) grow up in a highly dysfunctional family (aren't all memoirs) but this book is so well written and objective that I embraced it. Mom, Dad and the daughters all are on the autism spectrum with lots of baggage. Ms. Albertine and her sister have an epic fight in their dying mother's hospital room. This is a book of true self understanding as the author uses her parent's diaries t ...more
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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
“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” 1 likes
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