A Truer, More Holistic Understanding of Ourselves


Viv Albertine’s memoir Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. focused on the birth of the British punk scene, which she experienced first-hand as the guitarist for the groundbreaking all-female band The Slits. It was also an unflinching look at life after the band, including marriage, illness, and motherhood. That book rightly earned accolades from Rough Trade and NME and it was shortlisted for the 2014 National Book Awards.

Albertine is back with a new memoir, To Throw Away Unopened, out today from Faber & Faber. The title is a reference to her late mother’s diaries, which she found concealed in an old flight bag with that very message written in Tipp-Ex (known as Wite-Out in the US) across the front. Albertine defies these instructions and instead pursues a searing exploration of how family histories are inevitably fragmentary, but can nonetheless bring us closer to a truer and more holistic understanding of ourselves.

What myths or distortions have you been told, explicitly or implicitly, about your own family? Prepare for these fictions to fall away as you read this compelling book, and look for exclusive insights from Albertine when she appears in next month’s installment of Wanted/Needed/Loved: Musicians and the Stuff They Can’t Live Without.

Allyson McCabe writes and produces stories about music for NPR, and her own subscription-based channel, Vanishing Ink. More from this author →