Untwisted: The story of my life
Allen & Unwin, $34.99 hb, 336 pp
Paul Jennings’s literary career can be traced back to three whispered words from the author Carmel Bird, who taught him writing at an evening class in Melbourne in 1983. ‘You are good,’ she told him. Jennings was an unpublished forty-year-old at the time, yet within two years Penguin had launched his first short story collection, Unreal!
Jennings recalls this moment with Bird in the opening chapter of Untwisted. It is this memoir’s departure point for charting the English-born writer’s journey from a disrupted, often unpleasant childhood, through a teaching career, and ultimately to his status today as, at seventy-seven, arguably Australia’s greatest living children’s author.