Memoir

Gillian Dooley reviews 'After' by Nikki Gemmell

Gillian Dooley
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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Diana Bagnall reviews 'The Case Against Fragrance' by Kate Grenville

Diana Bagnall
24 March 2017

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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Elisabeth Holdsworth reviews 'Flight from the Brothers Grimm: A European- Australian memoir' by Valerie Murray

Elisabeth Holdsworth
24 February 2017

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 ... More

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Only: A singular memoir' by Caroline Baum

Gillian Dooley
24 February 2017

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. ... More

Duncan Fardon reviews 'Scoundrel Days: A memoir' by Brentley Frazer

Duncan Fardon
24 February 2017

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 ... More

Morag Fraser reviews 'Light and Shadow: Memoirs of a spy's son' by Mark Colvin

Morag Fraser
22 February 2017

Mark Colvin’s fine memoir – of a journalist’s life and as a spy’s son – was completed before the Macquarie Dictionary chose ‘fake news’ as its word of the year, and More

Sue Bond reviews 'Saltwater' by Cathy McLennan

Sue Bond
21 December 2016

This book is likely to anger many readers. Saltwater is about Cathy McLennan’s time as a barrister for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service on Palm Island and More

Kate Ryan reviews 'Poum and Alexandre: A Paris memoir' by Catherine de Saint Phalle

Kate Ryan
21 December 2016

Catherine de Saint Phalle’s memoir brings us the developing consciousness of a star-struck but lonely child as she struggles to understand and negotiate parents who ...

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Suzy Freeman-Greene reviews 'In the Darkroom' by Susan Faludi

Suzy Freeman-Greene
19 December 2016

The subject line of the email ­– from a father in Budapest to his daughter in Oregon – is ‘Changes’. ‘I’ve got some interesting news for you,’ writes Steven. ‘I have de More

Dilan Gunawardana reviews 'Songs of a War Boy' by Deng Thiak Adut and Ben McKelvey

Dilan Gunawardana
28 November 2016

Songs are of great importance to the Dinka people of South Sudan. ‘They’re our avatars, and our biographies. They precede us, introduce us, and live on after we die,’ writes the refugee advocate, Archibald muse, and NSW Australian of the Year for 2017, Deng Thiak Adut. His memoir, Songs of a War Boy, serves as a profound if disturbing ballad to his tr ... More

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