RaveFinancial Times (UK)... sprightly ... Much of his tale is as bleak as his poetry, but Clarke is a droll observer of his own life, guiding us through a childhood of benign neglect to later heroin addiction and an often terrifying cast of characters ... As with his performances, his comic timing as a writer appears effortless but is highly skilled ... The least interesting parts of Clarke’s book deal with heroin addiction at the height of his career (he has been clean for many years) ... For aspiring poets, he deconstructs his writing process, explaining an intriguing technique of writing backwards ... Clarke’s primordial gift for language is everywhere in this book. It is almost impossible not to read passages out loud — a meta reminder of his contribution to the joy of spoken-word performance.
MixedThe Financial Times (UK)Lee and Kennedy have selected weighty names, including Simon Armitage, Julian Barnes and Jenny Uglow, to excavate the domestic lives of past politicians, writers, artists and others ... The joy of the book lies in the sheer variety of its subjects’ domestic routines ... But not all homes are charming and not all domestic life is jolly. Houses are full of horrors and, in this collection, women experience fewer of their sensual pleasures and more of the drudge ... Not all the writing is skilled. A piece by Alexander Masters is presented as a series of interviews with homeless men and women at a drop-in centre in the south coast town of Eastbourne, a world ripe for illumination. But this essay is dutiful rather than necessary, its subjects reduced to their first names.
RaveThe Financial TimesTo Throw Away Unopened mostly leaves music (though not the clothes and the boys) behind, picking up Albertine’s story after the publication of her first book ... Anger, and how to manage it decades after egregious events, is the central problem here, and Albertine picks over it meticulously ... By the end of the memoir, Albertine emerges from grief into something like clarity, though her tendency for brutal self-reflection remains intact. All the rigour and rage of her punk heritage make this utterly compelling writing. No sentimental tropes, no bittersweet reconciliations—but perhaps some kind of future.