In the Half-Light: Life as a child in Australia 1900-1970
Angus and Robertson, $24.95 hb, 265 pp
Telling one’s own story comes naturally: we are all in some sense autobiographers. There is nothing new in the urge to seek a pattern in a life while living it, to advertise an ego, to explain, confess, justify, understand – or simply to say ‘I was there’. What is new is the comparative ease with which the urge can be accommodated and the ‘self-life’ made into text.
The current interest in the narratives of ‘ordinary people’ is attested by the extraordinary success of Albert Facey’s A Fortunate Life. It may also be seen in some recent and important scholarly enterprises such as the nineteenth century Australian women’s diaries published by Lucy Frost in No Place for a Nervous Lady or the oral histories from which Janet McCalman constructed inner urban Richmond in the depression years as Struggletown.