*Finalist, Hubert Evans Nonfiction Prize
A genuinely moving, funny, and inventive account of loss and grief, mental illness and suicide, from film and TV producer Liz Levine (Story of a Girl), written in the aftermath of the deaths of her sister and best friend.
I feel like I might be a terrible person to be laughing in these moments. But it turns out, I’m not alone.
In November of 2016, Liz Levine’s younger sister, Tamara, reached a breaking point after years of living with mental illness. In the dark hours before dawn, she sent a final message to her family then killed herself.
In Nobody Ever Talks About Anything But the End, Liz weaves the story of what happened to Tamara with another significant death—that of Liz’s childhood love, Judson, to cancer. She writes about her relationship with Judson, Tamara’s struggles, the conflicts that arise in a family of challenging personalities, and how death casts a long shadow. This memorable account of life and loss is haunting yet filled with dark humor—Tamara emails her family when Trump is elected to check if she’s imagining things again, Liz discovers a banana has been indicted as a whistleblower in an alleged family conspiracy, and a little niece declares Tamara’s funeral the “most fun ever!”
With honesty, Liz exposes the raw truths about grief and mourning that we often shy away from—and almost never share with others. And she reveals how, in the midst of death, life—with all its messy complications—must also be celebrated.
About the author
Liz Levine is an award-winning producer whose credits include Kyra Sedgwick’s directorial debut, Story of a Girl, and Douglas Coupland’s television series jPod. She completed her Master of Journalism degree at the University of British Columbia and has written for the National Post, The Walrus, Playback magazine, and The Vancouver Sun. She divides her time between Vancouver and Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter @TheLizLevine.
“This hauntingly honest account of grief and mourning finds humour, light and celebration in the midst of death.”
— The Kit
“Liz has spent years working with writers when she should have been the writer all along. What a surprising and fascinating leap right out of the gate.”
— DOUGLAS COUPLAND, bestselling author
“In her haunting memoir, Levine marches us through the story of her best friend’s death to cancer and her sister’s to suicide. She spells out the chaos and the questions that inevitably arose, while alphabetizing the meaning and the meaninglessness of both tragedies along the way. And in this beautiful, dark-humoured dictionary, Levine doesn’t merely reveal her own journey, she also manages to uncover a path we can follow in our own lives.”
— TEGAN QUIN of Tegan and Sara
“With a fragmented structure and chronology, not unlike memories of loved ones lost, the book explores Levine’s relationships . . . her internal conflict propels the narrative and, ultimately, a personal transformation.”
— Literary Review of Canada
“A moving meditation on loss. . . . Sensitive testimony to the arduous process of mourning.”
“Will ring devastatingly true to anyone who has ever experienced loss, anyone who has never been able to put into words the complexities and contradictions of their feelings. . . . a balm, a palliative for the darkest times of life.”
— Toronto Star
“I was blown away by this book. We are prepared for life—death not so much. Liz accomplishes the impossible task of walking us through the incredible complexities of grief and loss—and somehow manages to make us laugh through our tears. Every image is perfectly placed, every word impeccably chosen. After reading this, I felt less alone and more understood. She changed the way I look at my grief. I needed this, in a way I could not possibly have known.”
— KYRA SEDGWICK
“This haunting memoir is like hitchhiking at night through the bleak tundra of death and loss we all know at one time or another; the jagged memories of insanity, love, and vanished innocence we all carry, that our families all have. Levine writes with such simple, yet sophisticated clarity that I lived every raw emotion, and was enveloped with every joy. This is writing at its best.”
— JESSE THISTLE, #1 bestselling author of From the Ashes
“Liz’s writing goes straight to the heart of what twists us up in our search for meaning—and thirst-quenching blame—during times of grief and loss. She will remind you of your best friend, your most delicious crutch, and your longest family holiday. This is a savvy, unflinching, darkly comic story of love and remembrance.”
— PAMELA RIBON, co-screenwriter, Moana, bestselling author, My Boyfriend Is a Bear
“The death of loved ones can leave us with an unbearable sense of doom—enough to make us avert our gaze. But Liz Levine has certainly not. Her crystalline honesty towards the abject loss of loved ones is both devastating and hilarious. Her stories are absolutely unforgettable.”
— ALEXANDRE TRUDEAU
“This brought home to me the incalculable pain of mental illness as well, and as poignantly, as any book could.”
— ADAM GOPNIK, bestselling author
“Haunting and filled with dark humour, this is an honest and calm look at the chaos of life.”
— Globe and Mail