Biography and Memoirs

Nigel Starck: Proud Australian Boy

John Ellison Davies
20 January 2012

From Changi to the Tower of London

John Ellison Davies

 

Proud Australian Boy: A Biography of Russell Braddon
by Nigel Starck
Australian Scholarly Publishing, $34.95 pb, 284 pp, 9781921875403

 

Russell Braddon was part of the first wave of postwar Aust ... More

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'The Romantic' by Kate Holden

Felicity Plunkett
15 November 2011

For a book featuring a lot of sex, The Romantic – whose title could be ironic, acerbic, or hopeful – disgust is not the most obvious predominant motif readers might expect...< More

Paul Morgan on Raimond Gaita's 'After Romulus'

Paul Morgan
27 September 2011

The business of growing up starts with distancing ourselves from our parents. It ends (as far as it ever ends) with drawing them close again. Rather than disappointing giants, we recognise them at last as fallible, unique human beings. We recognise them in ourselves, and so they become real to us.

The tumultuous early life of Raimond Gaita and his parents is ... More

Peter Rose reviews 'Sempre Susan' by Sigrid Nunez and 'Swimming in a Sea of Death' by David Rieff

Peter Rose
23 August 2011

In her short memoir of Susan Sontag, novelist Sigrid Nunez claims that she did not read the obituaries and commentaries after her death in 2004, and that she was never much interested in what other people said about Sontag. If it’s true, she is indeed a rara avis. Susan Sontag, in death as in life, generates enormous interest and a growing literature, one that pro ... More

James Ley reviews 'James Joyce: A Biography' by Gordon Bowker

James Ley
23 August 2011

Literary biography is an often derided genre. Writers, in particular, tend to be suspicious, if not openly hostile, toward what they are apt to regard as a secondary or parasitic form. And there are valid reasons for this wariness. The assumption behind a biography is, reasonably enough, that the writer’s life informs the work, but establishing the precise relevan ... More

Tim Bonyhady: Good Living Street

Evelyn Juers
24 May 2011

Leaving Vienna, city of windows

Evelyn Juers

 

GOOD LIVING STREET: THE FORTUNES OF MY VIENNESE FAMILY
by Tim Bonyhady
Allen & Unwin, $35 pb, 464 pp, 9781742371467

 

Would it be indulgent to invoke Leonard Cohen? It’s just that his song ‘Take Th ... More

Michael Holroyd: A Book of Secrets

Ian Britain
24 May 2011

Grand follies

Ian Britain

 

A Book of Secrets: Illegitimate Daughters, Absent Fathers
by Michael Holroyd
Chatto & Windus, $46.95 hb, 270 pp, 9780701185343

 

In a review on quite another subject for ABR’s recent summer issue (‘Barry by ... More

The biographer’s contract

Frances Spalding
06 May 2011

The business of authoring another person’s life is problematic and potentially dangerous. You need to be brave to write biography. It is not just the labour involved, or the obsessive research involving more travel and hours of work than can be deemed cost-effective; it also requires a self-exposing judiciousness. At every stage in the procedure decisions are made ... More

Shirley Walker reviews 'Nine Lives'

Shirley Walker
04 May 2011

Susan Sheridan’s Nine Lives, a ‘group biography’, analyses the life stories and literary achievements of nine Australian women writers. The purpose, according to Sheridan, is not only to rediscover the life story of each, but also, by exploring their publishing and aesthetic context, to create a ‘fresh configuration’ of our literary history.

... More

Morag Fraser reviews 'A Widow's Story'

Morag Fraser
26 April 2011

On 18 February 2008, Joyce Carol Oates’s husband, Raymond J. Smith, died unexpectedly of cardiopulmonary arrest. Smith was eminent in his own field as editor of the Ontario Review, but quietly eminent. Now he has become famous, a household name in international literary circles – as his widow’s spouse. It is an odd state of being, or non-being. But th ... More

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