Thursday, 23 July 2015

Matt Haig in conversation with Cathy Rentzenbrink at Foyles



My bookish Twitter timeline, who have EXCELLENT taste in great reads by the way, have been showering Cathy Rentzenbrink and her memoir, The Last Act of Love, with nothing but love. Recounting her younger brother being hit by a car, the 8-year-long aftermath and how this devastating event affected both her parents and herself, the novel is understandably a tearjerker, yet many of the reviews I've read also point out that it is a surprisingly uplifting read – similar to Cathy's author event at Foyles Charing Cross Road last week, which was at times moving and at others very funny as she and fellow author Matt Haig, who moderated the Q&A, joked with one another.

Some insightful comments from their conversation:
  • The Last Act of Love is weirdly nourishing, strengthening and therapeutic, considering its subject matter, which is all due to how Cathy has written it, Matt Haig said. He also called it a "brave book".

  • Cathy normally processes things by reading books about it; after reading about something it makes sense in her head. As no-one has written a book about what her brother, parents and she have gone through she felt an obligation to write it herself.

  • The art of memoir writing is that you have to simplify it, which means leaving people out. Despite omitting a lot of people, Cathy has had a lot of old friends and acquaintances get back in touch with her, which she found very nice.

  • A sad book should be short, Cathy said.

  • She was told frequently that time would heal, which is a myth. She feels that her life before and after the accident are in different universes.

  • Matt joked that The Last Act of Love is "one of the most emotional darts memoirs of the year" (spoiler alert: it is not about darts).

  • If the apocalypse happens (which Cathy has thought about) and she'd be left with nothing but pen and paper she still wouldn't have written her memoir; she first and foremost wrote it to communicate (and after an apocalypse there wouldn't be anyone left to communicate with).

  • Cathy's memories of her brother were tainted by the accident and the way he was after, however with the book she wrote herself towards how he used to be.
Summarising some memorable moments from the event really doesn't do the amazing conversation between Cathy and Matt justice; it was fascinating, moving, funny and most of all a beautiful evening.


I ♥ Foyles. Every time I visit – especially for author events – I really do feel like I'm with friends. Thanks for another fabulous bookish evening!

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