Memoir

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, ...

After by Nikki Gemmell

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April 2017, no. 390

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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Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

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March 2017, no. 389

‘I come from a boardwalk town where almost everything is tinged with a bit of fraud. So am I.’ Thus begins the captivating autobiography of Bruce Springsteen. No treacly guitar man’s reminiscence, Born to Run grapples with the trickier paradoxes of family, love, mental illness, and musical success. At turns confessional and unapologetic, sentimental a ...

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 ...

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 the OED and Merriam-Webster opted for ‘post truth’ and ‘surreal’. In July 2016, as Colvin was writing his acknowledgments chapter ...

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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 ...

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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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