This Crazy Thing a Life: Australian Jewish biography
UWA Press, $39.95 pb, 319 pp
In one of the most haunting phrases contained in Inside Outside (1992), the Australian Jewish autobiographer Andrew Riemer comments on the persistent sense of loss that still shapes him, many years after his entry to Australia as a child immigrant. He writes, ‘exile seals your eyes, allowing you to see only what your longings and your sense of loss will permit’. Earlier, Riemer reflects on his longing for a vanished world, ‘a country of the mind, fashioned from powerful longings and fantasies’. With the undercutting of his own position, so characteristic of his writing, he writes: ‘Perhaps I am merely describing the human condition. I have come to learn that this sense of displacement, of not belonging ... is shared by many …’ And yet, he adds, the experience of migration ‘brings that predicament into sharper focus than might otherwise be the case’.