Memoir

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 ...

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Louis Nowra was born in 1950 and is – as he presents himself in this memoir – that very mid­-century thing, an outsider. An outsider in terms of class, mental constitution, and sexuality (for a time), Nowra suffers a worse, and originary, alienation from his mother. Being born on the fifth anniversary of his mother’s shooting of her father ...

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I wanted to like this memoir very much, not least because the inside of the book jacket promises, with some originality, a ‘not-uncritical love letter to Paris’. People (myself included) have a tendency to wax rhapsodic about France’s capital, but anyone who has ever lived there for any length of time knows ...

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Memoirs of illness are tricky. The raw material is often compelling: dramatic symptoms, embarrassing public moments, and unavoidable relationship pressures. The challenge is to share that raw material in a new way. Not every memoir needs to turn on the conceit that illness is an obstacle that must be overcome ...

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Kenneth Cook (1929-87) was a prolific author best known for his first novel, Wake in Fright (1961), which was based on his experience as a young journalist in Broken Hill in the 1950s. In January 1972, as I sat in a London cinema watching the film made from this novel by director Ted Kotcheff, its nightmare vision of outback life seared itself into my brain ...

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Morag Fraser reviews 'Leeward: A memoir' by Geoffrey Lehmann

Morag Fraser
Tuesday, 18 December 2018

The poet James McAuley once told a group of Sydney university students – ‘forcefully’,  as Geoffrey Lehmann recalls – that poets should have a career unconnected with literature. Lehmann had already imbibed a related injunction from his mother:  ‘One day she told me I should become a lawyer and a writer ...

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Jane Cadzow reviews 'Speaking Up' by Gillian Triggs

Jane Cadzow
Thursday, 25 October 2018

Gillian Triggs is a pearls-and-perfectly-cut-jacket person these days, so it is thrilling to learn that she was dressed head to toe in motorcycle leathers when she had one of the more instructive experiences of her life. It was 1972, and Triggs, the future president of the Australian Human Rights Commission ...

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In 2014, veteran ABC science broadcaster Robyn Williams was diagnosed with bowel cancer. It was, he reports, his third brush with death, following cardiac arrest in 1988 and bladder cancer in 1991. His description of the experience, including surgical reduction of his gut and rectum and ...

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There is an eerie sameness to addiction memoirs, which tend to follow the same basic structure. In the beginning, there is some immense and unassuageable pain, followed by the discovery of one substance or another that dulls some of that pain. Then comes the dawning realisation ...

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Ceridwen Spark reviews 'Traumata' by Meera Atkinson

Ceridwen Spark
Thursday, 26 July 2018

At first glance, Traumata seems to provide an exception to the rule not to judge a book by its cover. Featuring photos of the author’s mother, a woman in her forties, alongside photos of the young Atkinson on the precipice of adolescence, the cover portrays the filial relationship that is central in this memoir ...

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