BOOKS: IN BRIEF

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The Independent Culture
2 Before I Say Goodbye by Ruth Picardie with Matt Seaton and Justine Picardie, Penguin pounds 5.99. Former Independent journalist Ruth Picardie was diagnosed as having breast cancer in October 1996; in September 1997 she was dead. Before I Say Goodbye is a collection of the columns - blackly witty, deliciously well written - she produced for the Observer in the last months of her life. Reprinted here, they underline what a fabulous talent was lost when she died.

Picardie only had strength to write five columns and her sign-off is unbearably poignant, as well as telling. She points out that waiting to die is like being pregnant: "the vomiting, the weird stuff growing inside you, the endless waiting for the big day". Bolstering the columns are e-mails, both outgoing and incoming, from friends and readers: "I, for one, though I will never meet you, will miss you when you go," is a typical one. For details of Ruth's "big day", her husband Matt Seaton provides his own heartbreaking commentary. It's a brave, sad, funny and enormously significant book . 10p from every copy sold goes to the Lavender Trust, set up in Ruth Picardie's name for young women with breast cancer. Suzi Feay

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