The Eclipse: A Memoir of Suicide

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The Eclipse: A Memoir of Suicide
The Eclipse A Memoir of Suicide cover.gif
The original 2003 Australian The Eclipse: A Memoir of Suicide book cover
AuthorAntonella Gambotto-Burke
Cover artistHornet and Slug
PublisherBroken Ankle Books
Publication date
Media typePrint (Paperback and, in translation, Hardback). Ebook released in 2013.
Pages205 pp (first edition, paperback)
ISBN0-9751075-1-8 (first edition, paperback)
828/.9203 22
LC ClassPR9619.4.G36 Z465 2003
Preceded byThe Pure Weight of the Heart 
Followed byMOUTH[1] 

The Eclipse: A Memoir of Suicide (ISBN 0-9751075-1-8) is Antonella Gambotto-Burke's first memoir and fourth book. The narrative concerns her brother's suicide and the death of her ex-fiance, Chicago-born GQ editor Michael VerMeulen. Featured on the cover of The Weekend Australian's review section on 20 March 2004, The Eclipse has been published in four languages and was released as Premium Content through the Lifestyle PodNetwork in 2008.

Critical response[edit]

Nicholas Humphrey, Professor of Philosophy at the London School of Economics, wrote, "I read The Eclipse through at one sitting, gripped as by Coleridge's Ancient Mariner. It's an astonishing, deep and beautiful book."[2] And The Sunday Times (London) reviewer elaborated, "When they were both five, a blond boy with 'rueful eyes' asked Gambotto to marry him; at 16, he blew his brains out. Later, her lover, Michael VerMeulen, the editor of GQ magazine, overdosed on cocaine. Then in 2001, her brother gassed himself in a car. He left an apologetic note to his unknown discoverers, reassuring them that the gas was not explosive and asking the police to return the rented empty tank to the shop. He thought of everything - yet his family and friends were left only with a terrible perplexity. Gambotto's account is intense and moving, and she vividly captures her brother's troubled character."[3]

In The South China Morning Post, Annabel Walker decided that the book was "[h]onest, moving and reflective" and that "at its heart is intense grief." Gambotto-Burke "presents the hard facts, showing that during the past 45 years suicide rates worldwide have increased by 60 per cent ... [a] comfortingly honest account of the hellishness and black humour such events can bring ... Throughout the book, Gambotto asks: Does any man have the right to dispose of his own life? She supplies conflicting theories of philosophers and thinkers from Plato to the present ... She finds that the answer is no."[4]

The American Association of Suicidology Magazine review concluded: "The Eclipse is recommended for anyone searching for the meaning of loss in his/her life, for the support and wisdom of another survivor, and for inspiration about life after loss. One of the most simple, yet powerful messages taken from The Eclipse is: 'In suffering, we are presented with opportunities to overcome. In overcoming, we inspire. In inspiring, we strengthen the collective will to live. There is no greater gift we can give ourselves.'"[5]


The first human corpse I saw had housed my grandmother’s soul. I expected a serene mien. I expected to find her sleeping. I expected a transforming beauty, something painted by Millais. Instead, the old whore petticoats of skin. (p19)

Pills are the great infantilizers of our time. Adulthood can be wearying, and so some grow nostalgic about childhood dependencies. (p22)

Does any man have the right to dispose of his own life? This is the ultimate question of moral entitlement, and relevant only if right is relevant in this context, and it is not. A suicidal man cannot be concerned - and nor should he be - with questions of moral entitlement. (p53)

In wanting to kill himself, a man wants only to kill his consciousness of pain. I think therefore I am; therefore if I am not, I cannot think. (p54)

It takes real sangfroid to stare death out. Planning your own murder is a delicate undertaking, requiring as much foresight and paperwork as that invested by some girls into their first weddings. (p93)

Recollections fell from me in flakes, in scales. All that remained of me was all that remains of anyone: a kind of iridescence. There was a fear that I would never again feel substantial, a fear that I would be a kind of psychic amputee. (p120)

Psychological autopsies are also necessary to identify errors or oversights and expunge guilt. (p148)

Death is a process as straightforward as mowing a lawn. (p188)


  1. ^ Mouth (book)
  2. ^ The Eclipse: critical reception, Broken Ankle Books, 2009.
  3. ^ "Reviews at a glance: memoirs," by Sarah Bakewell, The Sunday Times, 18 January 2004.
  4. ^ "The Eclipse: A Memoir of Suicide - Review," by Annabel Walker, The South China Morning Post, January 1994.
  5. ^ "Surviving Suicide," The American Association of Suicidology Magazine, Vol. 16, No. 2, Summer 2004

External links[edit]