Memoir

When Oliver Sacks began seeing Bill Hayes in 2009, he had never been in a relationship. He wasn’t out as a gay man and hadn’t had sex for thirty-five years. Sacks, the celebrated author and neurologist, was almost thirty years older than Hayes, who had moved to New York from San Francisco after the sudden death of his partner. The two visited the Museum of Natur ...

Dennis Altman reviews 'And Then I Found Me' by Noel Tovey

Dennis Altman
Sunday, 30 April 2017

Looking back on his career, Noel Tovey writes: ‘I could work in three languages. I had dined in the finest restaurants in Europe and America with pop stars and royalty and I had a career in the theatre that most Australians would envy.’ The man who wrote these words grew up an abused and neglected child. When he was seventeen, he served time in Melbourne’s Pen ...

Beyond the Vapour Trail, a memoir-cum-travel book spanning six continents, concerns the author’s experiences as an aid worker for non-government organisations such as World Vision. Brett Pierce’s work involves researching and setting up community projects, and adapting and remodelling child sponsorship programs. He describes it as ‘sitting down with t ...

It is rare to read a memoir as joyfully insouciant about sex as Judith Buckrich’s The Political Is Personal. She describes the delicious state of discovering it, at seventeen, as ‘a sex haze’. At nineteen, she has an intense, dark-eyed boyfriend but is also sleeping with Morry, whose chief merit is his staying power in bed. ‘Once, to prove the point ...

Opposite a handsome portrait of him by Louis Kahan, Bruce Grant introduces his memoir of a ‘life’s journey’ by proposing that it is also a biography of Australia, and promising to revisit that on the last page. There, he summarises the plots of ‘Love in the Asian Century’, his recent trilogy of e-books, in which affairs between older men and younger women, ...

Gillian Dooley reviews 'After' by Nikki Gemmell

Gillian Dooley
Monday, 27 March 2017

In 2015, Nikki Gemmell’s mother, Elayn, took an overdose of painkillers. Gemmell’s new book, After, chronicles the difficult process of confronting her mother’s death and resolving the anguish it brought to her and her children. It is also an impassioned appeal for changes in Australia’s laws on the right to die.

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Kate Grenville’s publisher wasn’t keen on her writing a book about fragrance. He would have preferred another novel from the author of ...

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Valerie Murray, born Valika Morelli in Hungary during World War II and, for the past half century, wife of poet Les Murray, has written an enchanting memoir of her early life in Europe and Australia. The description ‘enchanting’ is used deliberately. The brothers Grimm and their terrifying tales are deployed throughout the work. The metaphor extends to the writi ...

Some ‘only’ children have revelled in that status. Iris Murdoch called her family unit ‘a perfect trinity of love’. Caroline Baum sees her family less happily as a triangle: ‘There’s something uncomfortable about a triangle: it’s all elbows, suggesting awkward unease.’ We find out in the following 380-odd pages the whats and whys of this discomfort. ...

Brentley Frazer, one of many scoundrels in his memoir Scoundrel Days, documents coming of age on the boundary of civilisation. His father’s vocation as the only policeman in a small northern Queensland mining town subjects Frazer to a chaotic side of life: a lockup only a stone’s throw from his bedroom; housing criminals and murderous poachers; bloodied ...