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The Iceberg A Memoir by Marion Coutts
  

The Iceberg A Memoir

Biography / Autobiography   All Shortlists and Winners   

Sue Baker's view...

Shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award 2014.

Stripped of sentimentality, this is Marion Coutts’ account of her husband being diagnosed with a brain tumour through to his subsequent death. A heartbreaking account of the loss of a partner, her spare style almost poetic, heartbreaking to read, yet somehow Marion Coutts’ account of this tragedy becomes uplifting, a painful account of deep loss but a true celebration of the man she mourns.

Like for Like Reading
Until Further Notice, I am Alive, Tom Lubbock
Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End, Atul Gawande

The Costa Judges said Coutts' book was “an unflinching, unforgettable memoir written with honesty, an absence of sentimentality and in utterly original language.”

Who is Sue Baker

Synopsis

The Iceberg A Memoir by Marion Coutts

Shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award 2014.

In 2008, Marion Coutts' husband, the art critic Tom Lubbock, was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and told that he had not more than two years to live. The tumour was located in the area of the brain controlling speech and language, and would eventually rob him of the ability to speak. Tom was 53 when he died, leaving Marion and their son Eugene, just two years old, alone. In short bursts of beautiful, textured prose, Coutts describes the eighteen months leading up to her partner's death; an account of a family unit under assault, and how the three of them fought to keep it intact. The Iceberg is an unflinching, honest exploration of staring death in the face, finding solace in strange places, finding beauty and even joy in the experience of dying. Written with extraordinary narrative force and power, it is almost shocking in its rawness. Nothing is kept from the reader: the fury, the occasional spells of selfishness, the indignity of being trapped in a hopeless situation. Yet out of all of this pain, comes an uplifting and life-affirming tale of great fortitude, courage, determination - and above all love. The Iceberg is a testament to the bravery of Tom, and Marion, and how together, with Eugene alongside them all the way, they faced up to his final journey together.

Reviews

An exquisitely expressed portrait of three lives operating in the shadow of catastrophe... The miracle here is not only in Coutts coming through such an ordeal, but in finding the wherewithal to observe it, unpick its complex psychology, and commit it to paper. This is human trauma, profoundly and beautifully told. * Independent on Sunday * Extraordinary... Not quite like any other bereavement memoir... it reads like a huge juggernaut, its inevitable awful ending hurtling towards you at full speed from the first page... I defy anyone reading her account of their last Christmas together... not to be moved to tears. * Evening Standard * Readers should be warned that sharing such a grief as closely as this marvellous book compels one to do is painful... This is a book that clearly had to be written... And certainly it ought to be read by anyone who ever pauses to consider our mortality. -- Diana Athill * Sunday Telegraph * The writing is lyrical, textured, perfectly paced; the sentences short so that we feel Coutts's moments of panic, her quickened heartbeat... [A] startlingly beautiful and inspiring pioneer text * Independent * She chooses her words with such beautiful scrupulousness, never twisting or turning the knife of her story to exact our pity or admiration; her thought is like sensation, her descriptions of feeling are often like notes for a visual work... Her book is a homage to an exceptional man; it's also the work of an exceptional woman artist, writing from the inside about the things women have always done: nursing, nurturing, loving. * Guardian * Hey - want to uncontrollably weep your eyes out? Read Marion Coutts describing her husband dying of a brain tumour. * @caitlinmoran * Marion Coutts has written a fierce love letter-cum-elegy in The Iceberg... This is far more than just another book about grief. -- Marina Warner * Observer * The Iceberg is mesmerising, harrowing and radiant. There are times when to go on reading is almost unbearable, yet it is impossible to put it down. -- Cressida Connolly * Mail on Sunday * It is a memoir quite unlike any other. It has the strength of an arrow: taut, spiked, quavering, working to its fatal conclusion... The Iceberg is an extraordinary story told in an extraordinary way. * The Sunday Times * Coutts's prose is precise and compelling, lyrical and poised... This is not another memoir of overcoming loss and grief, but rather an exploration of consciousness. * Times Literary Supplement *


About the Author

Marion Coutts is an artist and writer. She is a Lecturer in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College and wrote the introduction to Tom Lubbock's memoir Until Further Notice, I am Alive, published by Granta in 2012. She lives in London with her son.

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Book Info

Publication date

3rd July 2014

Author

Marion Coutts

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    recommendations

Publisher

Atlantic Books

Format

Hardback
304 pages

Categories

Biography / Autobiography
All Shortlists and Winners

Memoirs
Coping with illness & specific conditions
Coping with death & bereavement

ISBN

9781782393504

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