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Until Further Notice, I am Alive [Hardcover]

Tom Lubbock
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 10.33 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

5 April 2012
In 2008, Tom Lubbock was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour and told he had only two years to live. Physically fit and healthy, and suffering from few symptoms, he faced his death with the same directness and courage that had marked the rest of his life. As the Independent's chief art critic, Lubbock was renowned for the clarity and unconventionality of his writing, and his characteristic fierce intelligence permeates this extraordinary chronicle. With unflinching honesty and curiosity, he repeatedly turns over the fact of his mortality, as he wrestles with the paradoxical question of how to live, knowing we're going to die. Defying the initial diagnosis, Tom survived for three years. He savoured his remaining days; engaging with books, art, friends, his wife and their young son, while trying to stay focused on the fact of his impending death. There are medical details in the book - he vividly describes the slow process of losing control over speech as the tumour gradually pressed down on the area of his brain responsible for language - but this is much more than a book about illness; rather, it's a book about a man who remains in thrall to life, as he inches closer to death.

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Until Further Notice, I am Alive + The Iceberg: A Memoir
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (5 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847085318
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847085313
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 22.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Extraordinary ... It's hard, impossible, to précis this magical book: magical not by its author's intent but by what it achieves. He addresses one of the most ancient of philosophical questions - how should a man die? - with emotional assurance, a precise and kindly brutality of judgment, rare in the current rash of death-confessional writing. This is a book in a different class. More; it is a different class of thing. --Independent

Philosophy's big riddles get dramatised here in rich detail. Lubbock does not dwell on physical pain but he tries to track, with awesome stubbornness and lucidity, the gradual disintegration of his own speech patterns ... What gradually came on me as I read his notes and meditations was a sense that behind the witty and complicated man I very slightly knew, there stood a kind of hero of contemplation. --Guardian

A heart-rending, thrillingly intelligent book ... rich in all manner of wisdom ... Much of the book is written in the fine, elegant but no-nonsense style familiar to anyone who enjoyed his art reviews ... it is one of the best books of the last 300 years about how to die. --Literary Review

About the Author

Tom Lubbock, art critic and illustrator, was the chief art critic of the Independent from 1997 until his death in 2011. After studying Philosophy and English at Cambridge, he worked as a comedy writer and critic for radio, television and newspapers appearing on BBC2's The Late Show. His art writing includes a monograph on the 19th Century engraver Thomas Bewick, pieces for the journal Modern Painters and major catalogue essays on Goya and Ian Hamilton Finlay. Great Works, an anthology of 50 essays on individual paintings, will be published in October 2011. His illustrations, mainly done in collage, appeared every Saturday on the editorial page of the Independent between 1999 and 2004, and were exhibited in 2010 at Victoria Miro to wide acclaim.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Touching and Funny 7 July 2013
By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
I confess to having found this book rather tough going. The memoirs of art critic Tom Lubbock, as he faced the reality of the fact that he was dying from a brain tumour, it was never going to be an easy read. It is terribly sad however, not because of the medical reality of the situation Lubbock was in, but the fact that it was robbing of his speech and his ability to think and write. This is what comes across loud and clear in this slim volume, the worry and the anxiety about not just leaving his wife and child, but the leaving of the anchor that was his ability and skill and his passion and livelihood. The repetition of his concerns take up pages and pages as he checks and rechecks what he can do, what he can't do, what he might do etc. It is such a sad and small tale of a great and enormous thing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Unique opportunity 13 Aug 2013
By Ahu
Format:Kindle Edition
The book offers a unique opportunity to understand the process of illness, dying and losing language from the perspective of a writer who lifeline is language.
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5.0 out of 5 stars diary pages of intelligence and emotion 11 May 2013
By Michele
Format:Hardcover
I have now read Tom's book "Until further notice, I am Alive". It is a wanderful book, in my view a masterpiece.

I have cried, trembled, smiled. I have acknowledged the author's vision of the world and also the way his brain would face the personal crisis, analytically and with a profound, concerned, even humorous affection for life's goods and evils.

There is an incredible depth and vastness, a fantasy and honesty, a sense of reality and imagination in Tom's suggestions.

Tom has left a gift to us all.

Not only in this diary have I recognized Tom's attitude towards life, but in his detailed descriptions I have also felt resonating his philosophical style of reasoning, his incredible approach to, and competence in the visual arts which used to characterize his speech.

Some observations, in the odd pages, have reminded me of Martin Heidegger, Eugene Ionesco, and William Blakes.

I think I have received this diary the way probably Tom Lubbock wanted us to perceive it: a legacy, a gift, a transversal existential message.

As a reader, I feel grateful of the self-reflexive effort Tom Lubbock has made, which is so meaningful also for us.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sad but True 25 Oct 2012
Format:Hardcover
I found this meditation on living and dying pretty heavy going, in terms of both the subject matter and the style it was written in. To be fair, the author was losing his power of speech and his intellectual capacity to write as his brain tumour grew, and the overall tone tries to look on the bright side as much as possible. It can't hide the sadness, however, of a life being cut short in an untimely way. Tom Lubbock works his way through the ups and downs of his treatment, knowing that at some point the news will inevitably turn bad and terminal. How will he accept this when it comes? How will his wife and young son?
So it's quite a sad book, but it's not bitter nor angry. I feel he reached the acceptance of his fate he sought as the curtain came down, and that he died in peace. Which is all that any of us can hope for in the end.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty short 25 May 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Quite a good read but I found it rather short, however, well written and easy to read in spite of the subject matter.
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