Kate Holden reviews 'The Last Thread' by Michael Sala

The Last Thread

by Michael Sala

Affirm Press, $27.95 pb, 256 pp, 9780987132680

Memoir, it seems, is proliferating ever more furiously in Australia, filling bookshelves and review pages like bacteria in still water. We are insatiable in our appetite to read and write memoir, to feel the ‘real’. As a memoirist myself, I am all too aware of my hypocrisy in feeling uneasy about this rage for introspection. But memoir is most successful when it portrays an extraordinary individual; or gives witness to an important experience (accounts of Holocaust survivors, say); or when the personal resonates with the universal, and one person’s experience becomes a prism for that of many. A memoir that hesitates to claim such reader-oriented ratifications risks being a tedious assembly of anecdotes, a public catharsis, or mere narcissism.

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Published in February 2012, no. 338
Kate Holden

Kate Holden

Kate Holden is the author of In My Skin (2005) and The Romantic (2010), both published by Text. She writes a regular column for The Age, as well as widely published essays, short stories, and literary criticism.

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