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Mayhem: A Memoir by Sigrid Rausing

Mayhem: A Memoir

by Sigrid Rausing

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Sigrid Rausing is the editor and publisher of Granta magazine, as well as being one of the heirs to the Tetra Pak business and fortune. This is her memoir of the relapse into extreme drug addiction of her brother Hans and his wife Eva, a slide into dependency that leads to Eva's death in lurid, tabloid circumstances.

As the author herself admits, there is a lot here that she is not saying, and that makes this a slightly odd book. Therapeutic for the author perhaps, and goodness knows she and her family have had a lot to put up with, but a surreal experience for the disinterested reader. Eva's family have criticised the book and its easy to see why, as Eva gets a particularly hard time in this account, whilst the author's brother gets off much more lightly, perhaps because he communicates with his sister much less that his wife does.

But its worth reading though; perhaps because we have all seen so much Nordic noir, the idyllic rural childhood reminiscences seem fraught with danger. Surely something nasty is about to be revealed in the woodshed? And sure enough there are strands of madness and depression to be found. Are these the precursors of addiction? Rausing builds the tension nicely, even though the reader knows where we are going

And its a very bleak place we get to. Narratives of addiction usually focus on the less privileged in society; poverty, abuse, lack of opportunity, addiction. Its a familiar tale. Its far rarer to hear of a couple for whom money is no object - and indeed have household staff running their $70 million home - holed up in a locked second floor drug den consuming industrial scale quantities of crack, cocaine, and heroin when not acting as philanthropists for various drug related charities.

As I say, a lot of the gruesome details are missing, and its a one sided view. Is there more, or perhaps less to the story of how the author became the guardian of her brothers' children? Is there anything more to the connection with the murder of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme than Eva's paranoid, drug induced ravings?

But its a very intimate story of the pain of extreme dependency, extremely well written ( )
  Opinionated | Dec 31, 2017 |
A strange and offbeat memoir covering both heroin addiction and the murder of Olof Palmer, Prime Minister of Sweden. The author is a scion of a billionaire Swedish family whose grandfather invented the Tetra Pak (cardboard packaging for juice boxes, etc), and her brother and sister-in-law were the parents of four children and heroin addicts for years. She writes about the mental illness in her family's background, of taking custody of the nieces and nephews, and of the general malaise and searing pain of addiction for all parties.

Quotes: "The writer David Grossman said that putting words to emotions is what makes us human."

"The chicken is a little dry and/or you've ruined my life, " writes Ben Lerner in one of his poems. ( )
  froxgirl | Oct 18, 2017 |
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In the summer of 2012, a woman named Eva was found dead in the London townhouse she shared with her husband, Hans K. Rausing. The couple had struggled with drug addiction for years, often under the glare of tabloid headlines. Now, writing with singular clarity and restraint, the editor and publisher Sigrid Rausing tries to make sense of what happened to her brother and his wife.… (more)

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