Peter Rose reviews 'My Life As Me: A memoir' by Barry Humphries

Peter Rose reviews 'My Life As Me: A memoir' by Barry Humphries

My Life As Me: A memoir

by Barry Humphries

Viking, $45 hb, 384 pp, 0670888346

When Barry Humphries published his first volume of autobiography, many readers were left wanting ‘More, please’ – avid as gladdie-waving victims during one of his shows; voracious as the greedy polymath himself. After all, he had opened that comic triumph with a credible confession: ‘I always wanted more. I never had enough milk or money or socks or sex or holidays or first editions or solitude or gramophone records or free meals or real friends or guiltless pleasure or neckties or applause or unquestioning love or persimmons.’ Vague but abiding was his sense of unfulfilment: where’s the rest of it?

Ten years after More Please, prompted perhaps by his recent, belated triumphs in the USA, Humphries has dug deeper, irresistibly, into his cornucopian memory. Some readers may be perplexed by his traversal of the same material and by his reversion to the bassinet. In one slightly crabby interview, Humphries explained: ‘I remembered all the bits I left out.’ Yet the first of his many epigraphs comes from Gertrude Stein: ‘I do not know whether to put in the things I do not remember as well as the things I do remember.’

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Peter Rose

Peter Rose

Peter Rose is the Editor and CEO of Australian Book Review. His books include a family memoir, Rose Boys (2001), which won the National Biography Award in 2003. He has published two novels and six poetry collections, most recently The Subject of Feeling (UWA Publishing, 2015).

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