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on 5 November 2014
This autobiography accurately captures the febrile atmosphere of the late 70's and shows how punk did not emerge from a vacuum, but morphed out a variety of disparate influences such as the Edgar Broughton Band and Captain Beefheart. It then moves on to the profounder territory of how we make sense of our lives and what we do if our wishes are granted and are then found wanting.

A beautiful and moving book which doesn't flinch or hide behind retrospective bravado.
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on 21 July 2014
First half has fascinating account of London music scene in the 70s; second half a more personal account a of a life well lived but all told in lovely, clean, honest prose. Sits alongside Just Kids on my shelf. Did find The Slits unlistenable at the time but this made me go back and listen again and - well, still unlistenable - but I did go back and play a lot of Mick Jones/Clash songs. Sorry Viv.
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on 9 October 2014
Even my husband who normally doesnt like stuff like this couldnt put it down. I bought a couple of Slits singles when I was about 13 - which was all I could manage as they *are* an aquired taste ("Typical Girls" is a post-punk classic though) but I always could see their 'influence'. Love Viv - she is so funny and honest. But she was so mean to Mick Jones! Bad Viv! I have always been interested in any punk 'history' although its been done to death and much repeated by those involved - but this is why this book is so good as she goes deeper in to it all rather than banging on about the usuall stuff like the Bill Grundy ding-dong, etc etc etc - And the second half is just as absorbing. Highly recommended.
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on 24 March 2016
At 31 I totally missed out on the punk scene, however this past year I have been slowly getting into the music and reading anything i can get my hands on about he whole culture.
I was vaguely aware of The Slits(aware enough to know I didn't like their music) but I love reading about that era,especially a woman's perspective so it was a no-brainer buying this.
I really enjoyed this book even though it was quite frustrating at times(but I will get onto that later) I found myself so envious of Viv's early life in London. Growing up in London around that time and with so many exciting up and coming bands, a lot of whom you can call friends, must have been amazing. Viv talks very candidly about her friendships with The Clash, Sid Vicious, working at Dingwalls etc etc and it really does feel like you are getting a fly on the wall look into that fascinating time in history.
The second part of the book is a little more tame and Viv talks about her struggles with fertility, married life and epic cancer battle. I did start to struggle as Viv was clearly unhappy with her situation and I kept wondering why she just wouldn't get a job like us "normal" folk. She does come across as a bit tortured artist at times and I feel she was so lucky in her life that she just didn't see it. Yes she has had extremely hard times(especially her cancer battle) but I feel as much as Viv always wanted to be independent, she has always needed a man's help to get there.
This is what i found frustrating really, you would think there had been no female musicians/guitarists/bands etc the way Viv talks but there are plenty from that era and before. Her relationship with Mick Jones(who I fell totally in love with, what a lovely bloke) is quite frustrating too. She shied away from his affections yet slept with several people in their circle. But she writes it in a way where she doesn't see what the issue was. A great song came from that relationship though(Train In Vain) and it appears Mick is still very fond of Viv...again what a lovely guy!
I also felt her relationship with Sid Vicious was a little odd. I got the impression she wanted it to be more but he saw her as a sister-type? I don't know, just a vibe I got from reading. Also her and Vivienne Westwood totally defending him when he was arrested for throwing a glass and blinding a girl,which he denied at the time, was interesting. Being a fan of The Damned(Sid was aiming for Dave Vanian who he felt "stole" his place in the group) I knew that story well and Viv writes how she and Vivienne were so sick of "poor Sid" getting the blame, like he is totally innocent. Of course we only get a couple of words when she says that Sid admitted he did it.
I think Viv really struggled to play guitar and was extremely lucky to have Mick Jones try to teach her and bring The Slits on tour with the Clash. I feel that she doesn't really acknowledge how much help she has had over the years and that is my main frustration with the book really.
Having said that, I really loved the book and think Viv is great!
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on 3 August 2015
Never have I willingly made so many detours to follow leads mentioned in an autobiography as I have reading whilst reading "Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys". It has provided me with the education in punk music I had missed out on by being born ten years too late. As chance would have it, Viv Albertine's book has complemented an education I am receiving from author S. Williams as I manage Tuesday Falling's online community and discover that Tuesday (the eponymous heroine/ villain) is inspired by The Clash "Police & Thieves" and that the murdertweets that accompany her novel sound like lyrics sung by Tubeway Army.

I digress.

When I heard Viv Albertine talking on Radio 4 the focus was on her struggles with fertility treatments, her fight with cancer and her concern that by publishing this (literally) warts-and-all biography when her daughter is still only 15 she wasn't sure what an impact it would have on her. However upon reading the biography it is clear that this fear was no more than a polite excuse for listeners who may be shocked when, upon reading the autobiography after hearing her on the radio, find themselves stumbling across smelly sexual encounters, recreational drugs and the like.

The uncomfortable reading for myself was not the vivid stories from her youth, nor the gory fight with cancer, but the reflections Viv Albertine has on being a divorced single woman struggling with loneliness. Her tears when the consultant at her routine 6 monthly cancer survivor check up said that she will someday find someone to look after her ("he may as well have said 'One day you will find a unicorn'" she comments); her sadness that punk was the only time when she fit in; her crazy reflection that she almost missed having "the psycho" around and her admittance that now "if happy domesticity came my way, I'd probably grab hold of it and never let it go".

As far as being an example to her daughter is concerned, Viv Albertine unashamedly states:

"I keep trying to paint what I'm doing in a good light to my daughter... I believe without a shadow of a doubt that I'm a good role model for her. To see your mother sit down and learn an instrument from scratch, write songs and eventually be up on stage singing them is a fantastic lesson in making a dream come true".

And, as I said in my tweet upon finishing the autobiography on 18/7/15, she has become a role model out of type for me and yet perfect.
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on 14 February 2015
I've just finished this book, after greedily gobbling it up over the course of a week. I heard Viv being interviewed on the Radcliffe and Maconie show on BBC 6Music, and she was so engaging that I had to immediately order a copy of the book. I was born in 1977, and I've been obsessed with punk music, fashion and culture since I was thirteen years old. However, what I've absorbed up to now has mostly been the male point of view - and Viv's point of view is refreshingly honest and un-airbrushed. It shows the Slits' ambition to play music in a way that was unashamedly female, fiercely independent and in no way "girly". I loved Viv's narrative voice - her eye for detail in music and clothing, the way the reader sees her experiences headlong, in the present tense and through her eyes. It's so vivid. I loved her descriptions of growing up, experiencing some of the key moments of Sixties "flower power" as a teenager, and how this yearning for self-expression flowed into punk more naturally than we are often led to believe. As the descriptions are so vivid, her later experiences of struggling for motherhood and battling illness aren't for the faint-hearted, but are essential reading about life as a woman. If I had a teenage daughter, I would give this for her to read. This book is inspiring for anyone who wants to produce art, music or writing, and why you should never listen to the voices that tell you "no", especially your own.
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on 25 June 2014
I have become tired of autobiographies recently because they are simply a description of what has happened with no sense of what people have learnt about themselves and how they have dealt with their challenges. But this one was absolutely brilliant. The 25% about life leading up to the end of The Splits was fantastic if you were a teenager in the 70s. And the rest was equally good. What an incredible life she has led, full of shocks and surprises and her book manages to share her emotional state and self awareness in short and snappy chapters. I loved it. The best autobiography I have read for a very long time.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 October 2015
I like The Slits and I'm very interested in the punk era however significant parts of this book are not about punk. What's more even if I had no interest in punk, or indeed no idea about Viv Albertine, I am sure I'd still love this book. I devoured it. It's just brilliant.

Split into self-contained chapters, Viv variously describes growing up in Muswell Hill, her family, school, teenage experiences, working at Dingwalls, punk, The Slits, close relationships with some of punk's biggest names, making records, teaching aerobics, filmmaking, cancer, trying to conceive, marriage and domesticity, and creative reinvention. That in-exhaustive list is just the half of it though, it's all interesting, and Viv describes everything with honesty, candour and plenty of hard won wisdom and insight.

This is not a punk memoir - it's a life memoir. It's also a memoir about a courageous woman and original thinker. A true artist. The writing is clear and concise - the contents fascinating, and frequently profound.
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on 13 November 2014
I was in my early teens in the late '70s and can remember the emergence of Punk, so it was fascinating to hear from someone at the very heart of the scene. Viv Albertine's writing style is unique - deceptively un-emotional and straightforward, but at the same time touching and insightful. This was particularly noticeable in 'Side Two', which, deals with her life after leaving The Slits. Here she speaks about hard times (I say 'speak' rather than 'write' as her voice comes through so clearly), serious illness and the breakdown of a relationship, but she never loses hope and humour. Her love of music fills the book and, although frightened by new challenges - whether buying her first guitar and joining a band or returning to music later in life - each and every time she steps up and does it anyway. An admirable and inspiring woman - a moving and thoroughly enjoyable book.
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on 11 April 2015
Brutally honest autobiography by an important participant in the punk era, but so much more than that. Thoroughly entertaining and fascinating and, most importantly, helps to explain why there aren't more 'successful' women in all artistic fields and elsewhere. Viv's accounts of her struggles are authentic and moving. Includes some wonderful and evocative images too.
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