Biography and Memoirs

Here are some of the interesting things you may learn if you read John Sutherland’s Lives of the Novelists:

that James Fenimore Cooper was expelled from Yale for training a donkey to sit in the professor’s chair

that Evelyn Waugh once attempted suicide but was prevented from drowning by a passing shoal o ...

Tony Taylor: Fishing the River of Time

Carol Middleton
Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Modest and Remarkable

Carol Middleton

 

Fishing the River of Time
by Tony Taylor
Text Publishing, $29.95 hb, 224 pp, 9781921922015

 

This is the modest memoir of a remarkable man. At the age of eighty, geologist Tony Taylor travels from Sydney to Vanco ...

If you’re a theatregoer, then somewhere along the line you’re bound to have seen The Government Inspector, Nikolai Gogol’s comedy about a rapacious nobody being mistaken for a government official by the citizens of a nameless provincial backwater. (They too are nobodies, greedy to be somebodies.) You might remember (since it’s a line that will ...

Joel Deane: David McKnight's depiction of Rupert Murdoch

Joel Deane
Monday, 27 February 2012

 It is a thought-provoking photograph. In 1988, during the bicentenary of The Times, Rupert Murdoch and Queen Elizabeth are pictured sitting at a news conference within the inner sanctum of the London broadsheet. Mogul and monarch are at arm’s length – she, straight-backed, legs crossed, hands gathered together above her lap; he, leaning forward an ...

As of writing, Australia has six living ex-prime ministers – not quite a record. Of these, one, of course, is still in parliamentary harness, and may still aspire to the top job. Of the remaining five, all but one have provided us with voluminous accounts of their stewardship ...

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Matt Granfield: HipsterMattic

Alex O'Brien
Friday, 20 January 2012

Infinitely cooler

Alex O’Brien

 

HipsterMattic
by Matt Granfield
Allen & Unwin, $24.99 pb, 320 pp, 9781742377858

 

In the past, a twenty-something could exemplify le dernier cri without having to dispense with his bicycle gears, reflecto ...

Nigel Starck: Proud Australian Boy

John Ellison Davies
Friday, 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 ...

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'The Romantic' by Kate Holden

Felicity Plunkett
Tuesday, 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...

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Paul Morgan on Raimond Gaita's 'After Romulus'

Paul Morgan
Tuesday, 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 ...

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 ...