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The Twelfth of Never: A memoir by Louis Nowra

Reviewed by
April 2000, no. 219
David McCooey reviews 'The Twelfth of Never: A memoir' by Louis Nowra

The Twelfth of Never: A memoir

by Louis Nowra

Picador, $25 pb, 377 pp, 0330361872

The Twelfth of Never: A memoir by Louis Nowra

Reviewed by
April 2000, no. 219

Louis Nowra was born in 1950 and is – as he presents himself in this memoir – that very mid­-century thing, an outsider. An outsider in terms of class, mental constitution, and sexuality (for a time), Nowra suffers a worse, and originary, alienation from his mother. Being born on the fifth anniversary of his mother’s shooting of her father, Nowra’s existence is caught between dysfunctional expressions of daughterhood and motherhood: ‘I was born a memory of my mother killing her father.’

Such is the dramatic opening chapter of The Twelfth of Never, a tableau worthy of this skilled playwright and screenwriter. But what follows is more leisured, less self­conscious about effect and pacing. Memoirs, we often feel, should not be too self-consciously literary. They should allow for any amount of digression, rocking of hobby-horses, and grinding of at least one axe. The discovery of character should be through indirection, and surprises most effectively come from wide vistas of otherwise-conventional selfhood.

David McCooey reviews 'The Twelfth of Never: A memoir' by Louis Nowra

The Twelfth of Never: A memoir

by Louis Nowra

Picador, $25 pb, 377 pp, 0330361872