Viv Albertine is a national treasure. On the evening of the 7th of May, a sizeable crowd made their way to the basement of The Wardrobe in Leeds, dimly lit with fairy lights and pink neon, to hear Viv speak as part of Leeds International Festival. The first thing to be spotted on arriving downstairs was Viv herself: legendary guitarist for punk band The Slits, songwriter, renown author of two memoirs, and the centre of the night’s event, chatting amicably and signing copies of her newest book.
The crowd settled into the basement to hear the first “proper talk” about her new autobiographical book, To Throw Away Unopened, in an interactive Q&A-style discussion. Taking a seat near the back of the room, as nearly every chair was filled, I wasn’t entirely sure of what to expect. What followed, however, was an awe-inspiring evening centred around the honesty, pain, loneliness, and rage of To Throw Away Unopened.
Viv sat opposite Chris Madden, who was unobtrusive and asked several engaging questions about the book and encouraged audience participation. He probed at the reasons behind the memoir’s non-linear style and stark honesty. Viv reasoned that, as she has virtually no family besides her daughter and an estranged sister, To Throw Away Unopened and her previous memoir Clothes Clothes Clothes. Music Music Music. Boys Boys Boys could be as honest as she wanted without fear of hurting her loved ones. She spoke with the same tones that can be found in both books: cutting boldness, openness, and wittiness. The ability for To Throw Away Unopened to be helpful to those who may have experienced similar things to Viv – ageing parents, an emotionally damaged childhood, and anti-authoritarian rage – was also central to its design. During the course of the talk, Viv explored capitalism, feminism and parenting with humour and straightforwardness, and I left that evening feeling uplifted and inspired, with a signed copy of To Throw Away Unopened in tow.
Viv stated that To Throw Away Unopened represented the first time a piece of her work has resonated with society at the time of creation. Indeed, it bristles with sincerity and underlying ferocity, as does Viv herself, and is essential reading for music fans and women of all ages.
To Throw Away Unopened is available to purchase here.