In 2008 the art critic Tom Lubbock was diagnosed with a brain tumour. The tumour was located in the area controlling speech and language, and would eventually rob him of the ability to speak. He died early in 2011. Marion Coutts was his wife.
In short bursts of beautiful, textured prose, Coutts describes the eighteen months leading up to her partner’s death. This book is an account of a family unit, man, woman, young child, under assault, and how the three of them fought to keep it intact.
Written with extraordinary narrative force and power, The Iceberg is almost shocking in its rawness. It charts the deterioration of Tom’s speech even as it records the developing language of his child. Fury, selfishness, grief, indignity and impotence are all examined and brought to light.
Yet out of this comes a rare story about belonging, an ‘adventure of being and dying’. This book is a celebration of each other, friends, family, art, work, love and language.
The book's truth is so pure and compressed, as though Coutts had condensed the coal of her experience into a diamond. Encountering it is like a near-death experience, at once traumatic and profoundly, permanently illuminating. Love itself is in these pages: not a representation of love, but love, pure and simple. The book reeks of it. * New York Times * An exquisitely expressed portrait of three lives operating in the shadow of catastrophe... This is human trauma, profoundly and beautifully told. * Independent on Sunday * 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. * 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 * 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 * In writer and artist Marion Coutts' unflinching yet uplifting memoir... she becomes a chronicler of what it means to be human. * Financial Times * Searing, shocking, unflinching, profoundly moving. * Spectator * At times so painful that it's hard to keep reading, this is nonetheless an unexpectedly reassuring book. * Books of the Year, Daily Mail * 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 * Hey - want to uncontrollably weep your eyes out? Read Marion Coutts describing her husband dying of a brain tumour. * @caitlinmoran * The Iceberg is a depiction of loss so raw it couldn't but melt the coldest of hearts. But Coutts is also something of an alchemist when it comes to language, her prose a uniquely beautiful landscape of emotion. * Independent, Books of the Year * An almost sculpted account of her and her infant son's endurance as her art critic husband died of a brain tumour: it is grand beyond words. * The Scotsman, Books of the Year * Harrowing but spellbinding... communicates in an original, challenging way the changes in her life after her husband, Tom Lubbock, was diagnosed with a brain tumour - well deserves its acclaim. * Guardian, Books of the Year * One of the most compelling and challenging books of the year. It has the strength of an arrow: taut, spiked, quivering, working to its fatal conclusion. * The Sunday Times, Books of the Year * Marion Coutt's memoir of her husband Tom Lubbock's last days following the diagnosis of a brain tumour is as devastating as you might expect. Yet such is the intensity and passion of her writing, it's also strangely exhilarating. * Josh Cohen, The Guardian, Books of the Year * The most heartbreaking memoir of the year... The writing is raw with grief, and offers no pat lessons or easy answers. * Independent on Sunday, Books of the Year * A perfect piece of writing, it does justice to a terrible situation, giving it grace and even glory. -- Claire Tomalin * The Week * Deeply affecting and beautifully written. * Literary Review *
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