Memoir

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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The name Sisonke Msimang may be familiar because of her reported claim in 2015 that Australia was ‘more racist’ than South Africa was during the apartheid era. What she in fact criticised were Australians’ failure to deal adequately with racial difference. Their recourse, she claimed, is to treat historical and present-day practices and manifestations of racism with ‘fake kindness’ rather than ‘honesty’, promoting a monoculturalism ...

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In The Rapids: Ways of looking at mania, Sam Twyford-Moore takes a personal, exploratory, and speculative approach to the subject of mania. Because the author has been significantly governed by manic episodes on several occasions (he was diagnosed with manic depression as he ‘came into adulthood’), The Rapids offers an insider’s perspective. It also considers some of the public and cultural manifestations of the illness ...

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‘Write about what you don’t know,’ British novelist Rose Tremain advised young authors. That has been her own strategy during a long and star-studded career. It is quite a stretch from the court of England’s Charles II in Restoration (1989), or that of Christian IV of Denmark in ...

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