David Williamson: Behind the scenes
Viking, $49.95 hb, 560 pp
There seems to be an ever-growing – I almost wrote market, but think I mean obsession – these days for the family history, the personal memoir, the parading of how I spent my childhood/adolescence/ protest years/personal and economic growth decades, before-finally-contributing-to-the-joy-of-past-and-future-generations-by-listing-my-achievements. Many of these are self-published. Kristin Williamson’s biography of her playwright husband is not, but perhaps should have been.
It is hard to know where to begin with the problems in this 560-page slog through David and Kristin’s dinner parties, first nights, marital awkwardnesses and, above all, carping critics. The final photograph in the book, from October 2008, is a shot of ‘David relaxing on our veranda at Sunshine Beach, sans noise, sans pollution, sans critics’. Well, to continue the Shakespearian reference, one might add that, while the author, over twenty-two chapters and an epilogue, has little difficulty in showing that she is certainly not sans eyes and ears for every imagined and real slight, she can fill these pages with just about anything and everything that takes her fancy, and that her style and sense of what makes for an interesting biography are mostly sans taste.