Biography and Memoirs

Paul Kildea reviews Fryderyk Chopin: A life and times by Alan Walker

Paul Kildea
22 February 2019

The author and critic Richard Ellmann died in May 1987, a handful of months before the publication of his biography of Oscar Wilde. Twenty years in the making, the book instantly establish More

Sheridan Palmer reviews The Boy from Brunswick: Leonard French, A biography by Reg MacDonald

Sheridan Palmer
22 February 2019

Old friendships and close collaborations between author and subject can be either a blessing or a curse in biography – a tightrope between discretionary tact and open fire. Both call for intimate but balanced subjec More

Susan Sheridan reviews Beyond Words: A year with Kenneth Cook by Jacqueline Kent

Susan Sheridan
22 February 2019

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 1 More

Peter Rose reviews 'A Certain Style: Beatrice Davis: A Literary Life' by Jacqueline Kent

Peter Rose
31 August 2018

In September 2018, NewSouth published a new edition of A Certain Style.

On a chilly evening in 1980, a stylish woman in her early seventies, wheezing slightly from a lifetime’s cigarettes, climbed a staircase just beneath the Harbour Bridge, entered a room full of book editors – young women mostly, university-educated, making their way ... More

Lucas Thompson reviews 'The Recovering: Intoxication and its aftermath' by Leslie Jamison

Lucas Thompson
31 August 2018

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 More

Gabriel García Ochoa reviews 'The Surreal Life of Leonora Carrington' by Joanna Moorhead

Gabriel García Ochoa
30 April 2018

There appears to be a major problem with the story of Leonora Carrington’s life (1917–2011): it hasn’t been told enough. This may be because, as in the case of Frida Kahlo and Diego More

Lyndon Megarrity reviews 'The Boy from Baradine' by Craig Emerson

Lyndon Megarrity
26 March 2018

The Boy from Baradine is one of the latest Australian political memoirs to hit the shelves. Craig Emerson, a prominent minister in the Rudd and Gillard governments between 2007 an More

Simon Caterson reviews 'Truth’s Fool: Derek Freeman and the war over cultural anthropology' by Peter Hempenstall

Simon Caterson
26 March 2018

‘It is hard to reach the truth of these islands,’ observed Robert Louis Stevenson of Samoa in a letter written to a close friend in 1892, two years after the author had moved to an est More

Ian Donaldson reviews 'Simon Leys: Navigator between worlds' by Philippe Paquet, translated by Julie Rose

Ian Donaldson
22 March 2018

The Belgian-born scholar Pierre Ryckmans, more widely known to the world by his adopted name of Simon Leys, was widely hailed in the Australian press at his death in 2014 as ‘one of the More

James McNamara reviews 'How Not To Be A Boy' by Robert Webb and 'This Is Going To Hurt: Secret diaries of a junior doctor' by Adam Kay

James McNamara
24 November 2017

The literary world too often disdains comedy writing as unserious. It rarely features in our grander prizes, and is usually relegated to literature’s cheap seats. This is, of course, sil More

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