Author(s): Tom Lubbock
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.
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.