RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewWith To Throw Away Unopened, her incandescent midlife memoir, a menopausal battle cry equal parts Nora Ephron and SCUM Manifesto, the British punk icon Viv Albertine is entrenched enough in mainstream society to advocate blowing it up from the inside ... The book’s title comes from instructions her mother left with her papers, a directive Albertine fortunately ignored. Her deconstruction of these documents turns the memoir into a sort of therapeutic whodunit. And the way she tells the tale of her mother’s dramatic final night a little at a time makes that story into a propulsive chorus to the song that is the rest of the book ... To Throw Away Unopened is enthusiastically chaotic, bursting with asides, footnotes, photos and quotes (from the likes of Virginia Woolf, Maggie Nelson, Margaret Atwood, Emily Brontë and Graham Greene). The effect is an echo of the cluttered closets and drawers she finds herself excavating once her parents are gone, , as well as of the distracted mind of a middle-aged woman trying to balance a creative life with seemingly endless obligations to other people.
PanThe New York Times Book Review...if her family is Exhibit A in humanity’s capacity for awfulness, she makes her way through the full alphabet, complaining about everyone ... Like a punk arriving late to class with neither paper nor pencil, she raises lack of curiosity to an art form ... The book is so raw it’s literally unfinished. In place of a conclusion, she has a chapter called 'No Conclusion,' in which she wonders how her brother’s case against her will turn out.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThis daring and seductive book — ostensibly about four artists, but actually about the universal struggle to be known — raises sophisticated questions about the experience of loneliness, a state that in a crowded city provides an 'uneasy combination of separation and exposure'...As Laing describes finding consolation in the work of artists, so this book serves as both provocation and comfort, a secular prayer for those who are alone — meaning all of us.