To Throw Away Unopened

Book
9780571326211

By Viv Albertine

avg rating

8 reviews

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.

Reviews

11 Jun 2018

macclesfield.library@cheshireeast.gov.uk

Macclesfield Library Book Group received free reading group copies of Viv Albertine; "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 really grip me I’m afraid. I tried to carry on reading but just couldn’t get into it, not sure whether it’s an age thing, as I am quite a bit younger than the character so couldn’t identify with Viv.”

“I have never liked biographies, and reading this book did not change my mind. The author and I are the same age though our experiences are totally different. I have never heard of her or her group. It was fascinating to read and your sympathies swing from sympathy with the different characters, to being appalled by them. It was like watching a car crash and not able to look away.”

“Viv is really direct about her life, an honest account of an honest life. The book held my interest; I read it over a weekend, a punchy page turner. Viv is not exceptional or unusual, life is full of “odd stuff” that happens. It’s what shapes us as humans.”

“I have never heard of Viv Albertine prior to reading this book, while this book is not my usual read I did enjoy Viv’s conversational writing style and her brutal honesty.”

07 May 2018

@reddoorbistro

To Throw Away Unopened was the book of the month for The Red Door Bistro Book Club. It’s certainly a book that provided us with lots to talk about. Star scores ranged from 2 to 4 and although it didn’t quite divide us down the middle, there was a long lively discussion as we agreed or disagreed with the opinions in the book and reflected on the issues it raised. Everyone agreed it was well written, full of vivid descriptions, insights and observations. For one or two it held up a mirror to issues and events experienced in their own lives, for others it was merely excuse after excuse with no real understanding gained on Viv’s part as to cause and effect. It’s a book full of drama, a brutally honest memoir of a broken family written from the heart. It is definitely a book that leaves an impact

02 May 2018

An interesting book, well written but a brutally honest memoir of a fractured family with elements of humour, sadness, love, sibling rivalry and discovery. Written in a no holds barred ( literally) way that describes aspects of her childhood, family relationships and mothers death. It is embellished with quotations and references that add to the book.

30 Apr 2018

This book wasn't for me, I felt as if I had picked up someone's half finished diary, I like my books to have a start, middle and ending and this didn't do it for me
I also felt that Viv was using the book to justify her dysfunctional relationship with her parents, and not explaining fully why she hated her sister so much.
If there is a follow up to this book I don't feel compelled to read it, I know not all books are not for all people and this one wasn't for me

29 Apr 2018

I enjoyed reading this memoir, I thought that it related to issues that we all could have encountered like loss and family feuds. I thought that she was very honest and wrote from her heart. I don't think you need to know much about the authors fame to enjoy this book because it is so personal. It was interesting to read how her relationship with her mother reflected her relationships with others like her sister. However I did think she had a problem with men which again stems from her upbringing and seemed to put them all in the same category and doesn't take them as individuals. I think is it worth a read.

28 Apr 2018

I wasn't expecting to like this book very much, as I've never been remotely interested in punk, but was pleasantly surprised by the first few chapters. The opening hooked me with its mix of mystery and '50 furniture, and indeed the openings of subsequent chapters for a while built the anticipation as to what exactly Viv had done on the night of her mother's death. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions (the confrontation with the rat stands out), the insights and observations, the cultural references and, initially, the anecdotes. However, as I read on I'm afraid it started to resemble a misery memoir, albeit a cultured one. I lost patience with the conflicting reports of the actions of the dysfunctional family from the three angles - father, mother and Viv herself. Later in the book I found some of the material very mundane.
Nevertheless, the book was well structured and impressively well written, with moments of humour, real drama and some stunning imagery. It was worth reading for the insight into a personality damaged - by nature as well as nurture? - and her thoughts on features of being on the autistic spectrum. The contradiction of Viv being so obedient to her mother's exhortations to be disobedient was fascinating. I also enjoyed the social history aspect and the effective use of photography.
I thought it was brave of the writer to bare her soul so frankly - and expose herself to reviewers over such personal subject matter.

24 Apr 2018

To Throw Away Unopened.

Well I didn’t but I did nearly ditch this book in the early days as I found the opening chapters quite unremarkable and the format initially confusing. It’s a book full of rage and loneliness, written by someone who feels aggrieved and cheated by the world almost as certainly she was by her parents. Their toxic relationship with each other and their children goes a long way to explain her attitudes but it still reads like a person who fails to learn. Bundling along blindly not listening or learning.
She glories in being an outsider but screams for attention which comes to a head by her mothers bedside and shocked is not the word I would choose. I was disgusted that a grown woman couldn’t hold it together in front of her daughter. An incident she writes of as if almost asking for us to concur with her actions.
She seems to have a pathological dislike of men, whose frailties are viciously detailed and she nurses an obsessive adoration of her mother despite the discovery of the diaries and clings to her mothers beliefs that as woman we are all repressed by gender, class and society. Therefore stereotyping herself, the exact opposite of how she wishes to be viewed. In searching for honesty she fails to recognise that she is still clinging to her impulsive dependency on reflexive senses rather than logic. Her writing is loud and attempts to be outrageous but is it just bluff and noise from someone who still feels lost like a vulnerable child having a tantrum?

I appreciate this review won’t sit well with the masses of other 5 star reviews I’ve seen and her adoring fans. It does deserve at least three stars for a being thought provoking and challenging book in which the author is prepared to bare her soul. It’s an interesting read but should it be taken at face value? The unpredictability of life along with the trauma of life events doesn’t mean we all have to remain isolated and angry. Finding calm and letting go isn’t selling out.

24 Apr 2018

To Throw Away Unopened.

Well I didn’t but I did nearly ditch this book in the early days as I found the opening chapters quite unremarkable and the format initially confusing. It’s a book full of rage and loneliness, written by someone who feels aggrieved and cheated by the world almost as certainly she was by her parents. Their toxic relationship with each other and their children goes a long way to explain her attitudes but it still reads like a person who fails to learn. Bundling along blindly not listening or learning.
She glories in being an outsider but screams for attention which comes to a head by her mothers bedside and shocked is not the word I would choose. I was disgusted that a grown woman couldn’t hold it together in front of her daughter. An incident she writes of as if almost asking for us to concur with her actions.
She seems to have a pathological dislike of men, whose frailties are viciously detailed and she nurses an obsessive adoration of her mother despite the discovery of the diaries and clings to her mothers beliefs that as woman we are all repressed by gender, class and society. Therefore stereotyping herself, the exact opposite of how she wishes to be viewed. In searching for honesty she fails to recognise that she is still clinging to her impulsive dependency on reflexive senses rather than logic. Her writing is loud and attempts to be outrageous but is it just bluff and noise from someone who still feels lost like a vulnerable child having a tantrum?

I appreciate this review won’t sit well with the masses of other 5 star reviews I’ve seen and her adoring fans. It does deserve at least three stars for a being thought provoking and challenging book in which the author is prepared to bare her soul. It’s an interesting read but should it be taken at face value? The unpredictability of life along with the trauma of life events doesn’t mean we all have to remain isolated and angry. Finding calm and letting go isn’t selling out.

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