Second Half First: A Memoir
Knopf, $39.99 hb, 378 pp, 9780857989796
Twenty-five years ago, Drusilla Modjeska's Poppy reimagined boldly the possibilities for Australian memoir. Modjeska recounts in her new memoir, Second Half First, how in her inaugural appearance at a writers' festival she was on a panel discussing autobiography with two established British writers, Victoria Glendinning and Andrew Motion. Poppy was written but not yet released. Feeling at a disadvantage following on from such accomplished performers, she rose with conviction to announce that 'here in Australia we were thinking about what biography might mean if we took as our subjects those who are not usually considered "worthy" of "A Life"'. She wondered how the inclusion of something of the biographer's own story might contribute to a deeper understanding of how 'a life became a narrative'. Glendinning patronisingly found the idea 'extraordinary'. 'We're not thinking about that in England,' she said.