Biography and Memoirs

Brian Matthews reviews 'Montebello: A Memoir'

Brian Matthews
25 October 2012

Robert Drewe’s first memoir, The Shark Net (2000) – an account of ‘memories and murder’ – opens in the transforming ‘different sunlight’ of a courtroom, a light that seems ‘harsher, dustier, more ancient looking’, making the figure in the dock somehow ‘uglier, smaller’, ‘like a criminal in a B-movie’, the very ‘stereotype of a croo ... More

Jan McGuinness reviews two biographies of Gina Rinehart

Jan McGuinness
25 October 2012

Reading two books about Gina Rinehart back to back is far from edifying. So rich, so controlling, so opinionated, so entitled – and these are among her less objectionable qualities, as described in the two biographies published since she burst into the headlines amid reports of family litigation, media buy-ins, and escalating wealth. Indeed, whatever she did would ... More

Peter Heerey reviews 'The Years of Lyndon Johnson'

Peter Heerey
25 October 2012

In Australia today, Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908–73) seems a fleeting figure on history’s stage: a brief interlude between Kennedy’s Camelot and Nixon’s Watergate – ‘All the way with LBJ!’ – the retreat from quagmire Vietnam – and that’s about it. So how does one justify buying and reading Robert A. Caro’s seven hundred-page book (dubbed ‘bloa ... More

Lisa Gorton reviews 'Edmund Spenser: A Life'

Lisa Gorton
25 October 2012

In 1579, with the publication of The Shepheardes Calendar, Edmund Spenser (c.1552–99) burst onto the English literary scene. From the beginning, he was one of the oddest of great writers. The Calendar was a work of remarkable ambition. Spenser’s unlikely shepherds ‘piped’ poems to each other, using a pseudo-archaic dialect and a variety ... More

Ian Britain reviews 'The Two Frank Thrings'

Ian Britain
27 September 2012

How lucky we were! My ‘baby boomer’ generation in Melbourne grew up on stories of the second Frank Thring (1926–94), which competed in outrageousness with the anecdotes we heard of Barry Humphries; and throughout the 1960s we had the opportunity – more so in the case of Thring, who had now settled back in Melbourne as a regular performer on stage and televis ... More

Andy Lloyd James reviews 'A Point of View'

Andy Lloyd James
26 September 2012

A Point of View is a weekly BBC Radio series in which invited speakers deliver ten-minute talks about ‘anything that has captured their imagination’ that week. Clive James contributed from 2007 to the end of 2009. This book is a collection of his talks. It is fascinating to read, both because of the immense range of subjects he covered and because it give ... More

Francesca Sasnaitis reviews the biography: 'Nicole Kidman'

Francesca Sasnaitis
25 September 2012

‘Will the real Nicole Kidman please stand up?’ Many readers will remember that line from the television game show Tell the Truth, in which celebrities were required to guess which of three contestants was the ‘real’ person. Pam Cook tells us that our ‘search for veracity is doomed to failure’ because, in this case, the celebrity’s identity is a ... More

Geoff Page reviews 'Apollo in George Street'

Geoff Page
25 September 2012

David McKee Wright is a curious figure in Australian poetry – and in New Zealand poetry, for that matter. As editor of the Bulletin’s Red Page from 1916 to 1926, he was a well-liked and -respected figure in his own time (1869–1928), but he has seriously faded since. He is thinly represented in a number of anthologies, both here and in New Zealand, and w ... More

Colin Nettelbeck on 'The Patagonian Hare: A Memoir'

Colin Nettelbeck
25 September 2012

As the maker of the nine-and-a-half hour film Shoah (1985), Claude Lanzmann created a work of major and enduring historical importance. Through its electrifyingly tense interviews with victims and perpetrators, it opens an indispensable, if harrowing, dimension to our understanding of Hitler’s Final Solution. A work that unrelentingly has as its subject dea ... More

Bernadette Brennan reviews 'Wild Card' by Dorothy Hewett

Bernadette Brennan
30 August 2012

Dorothy Hewett’s Wild Card: An Autobiography 1923–1958 was first published by McPhee Gribble in 1990. Now, a decade after Hewett’s death, UWA Publishing has reissued this extraordinary autobiography in a beautifully packaged, reader-friendly format. Reviewing Wild Card for ABR in October 1990, Chris Wallace-Crabbe drew attention to H ... More

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