Seaton, Matt 1965-
SEATON, Matt 1965-
PERSONAL: Born 1965, in Brighton, England; married Ruth Picardie (deceased); married; children: (first marriage) twins. Education: Studied English at Cambridge University. Hobbies and other interests: Cycling, swimming.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author's Mail, Guardian, 50 East Second St., New York, NY 10165-0006.
CAREER: Journalist. Guardian, London, England, parenting editor.
(Editor) Ruth Picardie, Before I Say Goodbye, Penguin (New York, NY), 1998.
The Escape Artist: A Life from the Saddle, Fourth Estate (London, England), 2002.
Contributor to newspapers and magazines; contributing editor to Esquire.
SIDELIGHTS: Matt Seaton is known for two things: his obsession with amateur cycling and his experiences with his wife as cancer took over her life. The two are forever entwined in his book The Escape Artist: Life from the Saddle.
Seaton and his first wife, journalist Ruth Picardie, were the parents of young twins when Ruth received the devastating news that her breast cancer had spread to her liver and lungs. Eventually, it robbed her of her brain as well. Not one to take things laying down, Ruth penned her memoir, Before I Say Goodbye, a collection of columns she wrote for Observer's Life magazine and some e-mails. Matt wrote the epilogue, and Ruth's sister edited the book. It is an honest, direct look at death and was generally received as a fresh—albeit painful—perspective in dealing with the topic. In an interview with the London Times, conducted within a year after his wife's death, Seaton explained his lack of sentimentality that some interpreted as lack of caring. "Those last few weeks were very hard and very bitter. It's really unquantifiable how much you're forced apart by the fact that one of you is dying, one of you is surviving."
The story is Ruth's, but it also belongs to Matt. While Ruth lay dying, it was Matt who cared for the kids. "As she began gradually to decline physically, so Matt found himself taking on more and more responsibility for the children, until by the end he was taking them to nursery, collecting them, feeding, dressing, and bathing them, and putting them to bed,"wrote the Times contributor. Though it pained him when Ruth told him she wanted him to marry again, he eventually did. And it was then that the healing process began, and he was able to put his thoughts and emotions into his first book, The Escape Artist: Life from the Saddle. A reviewer for the Observer wrote, "The pleasures of this book are several. . . . Above all, The Escape Artist is an achingly sad account of what Seaton now refers to as 'my former life.'"
Seaton's passion for cycling is evident in his writing. Before marriage and kids curbed his habit, he raced in Spain, Belgium, and Ireland. At home in London, he rode the track bike, which has no gears or breaks, and to which the cyclist is strapped. In his book he shares the joys of cycling, explains how liberating the act is, and how it is as much a part of his life as breathing. Guardian reviewer Jon Snow commented on Seaton's literal escape from grief by returning to cycling. "Some may read into it all a degree of callousness in the scale of the escape. I suspect that it literally saved his mind."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Guardian, April 6, 2002, Jon Snow, "Riding on the Edge."
New Statesman, April 15, 2002, Julian Keeling, "Male Obsessions," pp. 52-53.
Times, May 6, 1998, Sandra Parsons, "Tackling Life after Death," p. 17.
Times Literary Supplement, November 6, 1998, Mary Margaret McCabe, review of Before I Say Goodbye, p. 28.
Distributed Systems Technology Center,http://www.dstc.edu.au/ (September 6, 2002), review of "Life in the Saddle."
NTL Group, Ltd.,http://www.homepage.ntlworld.com/ (September 6, 2002), Anthony Campbell, "The Escape Artist."
Observer,http://www.observer.co.uk/ (September 6, 2002), "Chain and Able."*