Ida Mann’s autobiography reminded me a little of the kind of speech that well-known elderly women tend to give to girls’ speech nights – full of zest, homely admonition, and assurances to the rows of upturned young faces that they’ll get out of life what they put in. ... (read more)
Hilary McPhee is a publisher, editor and writer. She was Chair of the Australia Council and the Major Organizations Board 1994–97. Her books include Other Peoples' Words (2001), Wordlines (2010), and Memoirs of a Young Bastard, the Diaries of Tim Burstall (2012). Her most recent book is Other People's Houses.
July 1986, no. 82 • 01 July 1986
Kylie Tennant hasn’t taken the task of telling the story of her life seriously – and that is one of the real pleasures of this rough and ready autobiography. Her ten novels and many short stories, as well as being piercingly accurate social documentaries, are carefully constructed to work as good yarns should. But Tennant’s autobiography is not well put together. It reads as if she is natter ... (read more)
Books flow steadily from the northern to the southern hemisphere through the traditional conduits of empire. To get them to flow back the other way is difficult but it can be done. The real task though, it seems to me, is to overhaul the plumbing so that writing and writers can flourish, and that’s a long haul. The present debate about whether Australian books should be first published here or ... (read more)
Eric Rolls begins his Celebration of the Senses with an image of his wife’s left buttock shining through a split in an old blue sheet ‘like an early morning moon’. He ends the book with the smells of his semen and her cunt as the warm sheet is lifted and the day begins. He shares his delight in his partner (‘I will not name her. A name both exposes and confines her’) as he shares all the ... (read more)
Beth Yahp's beautifully crafted memoir of her ancestors, her parents, and herself is shaped around journeys criss-crossing the Malay Peninsula where her Siamese-speaking Eurasian mother and her Hakka Chinese father met and married in 1961. A photograph seems to have triggered the project – perhaps the lovely sepia cover shot of her parents on their honeymoon, sitting on a wall somewhere in Malay ... (read more)