Biography and Memoirs

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Boy, Lost'

Gillian Dooley
Thursday, 27 June 2013

Boy, Lost is a sad and shocking memoir, unique in particulars but not in broad outline. Domestic violence and psychological sadism lie at its heart.

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Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'A Flower Between the Cracks'

Jay Daniel Thompson
Monday, 27 May 2013

A Flower Between the Cracks, South Australian writer Helen Sage’s first book, chronicles her experience of caring for a disabled child over a period of several years. Sage’s busy but comfortable life was changed irrevocably when her daughter, Jayne, was involved in a horrific car accident. Prior to this, Jayne had been a psychology honours student who lov ...

Ray Cassin on The Life of Pope Pius XII

Ray Cassin
Monday, 27 May 2013

Not the least portent of change in the Catholic Church since the Argentine Jesuit Jorge Bergoglio was elected as Pope Francis earlier this year has been mounting speculation that the new pontiff will disclose all documents in the Vatican archives concerning the most controversial of his twentieth-century predecessors, Eugenio Pacelli, who reigned as Pius XII from 19 ...

Unlike Hawthorne: A Life (2003), Brenda Wineapple’s penetrating and engaging biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hawthorne’s Habitations, is a work of literary criticism informed by a narrow but fascinating range of biographical details and sources. These details support Robert Milder’s construction of an author ‘divided’ by ...

The career of Marjorie Lawrence is one of the great might-have-beens of operatic history. The saga of a young Australian woman who, in an astonishingly short period of time, became a leading singer first at the Paris Opéra and then at New York’s Metropolitan and who was poised to become the Met’s prima donna assoluta in the Wagnerian repertory when disas ...

The title of Ray Monk’s biography of Robert Oppenheimer plays on several ‘centres’: the entrancing interior of the atom wherein physicists found the secrets of nuclear energy; the institutional centres of American intellectual life that served as Oppenheimer’s professional milieu; the seductive hubs of political power to which he felt a fatal attraction; his ...

My Swedish neighbour is rebuilding. From my back garden I overheard her Australian builder loudly introducing her to a tradesman named Hans. ‘Now, we’re for it,’ he chortled. ‘It’ll be talk, talk, talk, no stopping you now.’ As I hung out the washing, I reflected that the Australian nervousness around ‘Continentals’ that Madeleine St John details so ...

Rachel Robertson reviews 'Boomer & Me' by Jo Case

Rachel Robertson
Friday, 26 April 2013

The last decade has seen a significant growth both in the number of motherhood memoirs and in books about autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. Australia is no exception to this trend, and Jo Case, in Boomer & Me, makes a contribution to both fields. As someone who has written a motherhood memoir about autism, I am a sympathetic reviewer but might also be c ...

Rachel Robertson reviews 'Welcome to Your New Life'

Rachel Robertson
Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The welcome in the title of this memoir refers both to Goldsworthy welcoming her baby son and to her recognition that her own life has irrevocably changed. The commonplace but also profound shifts resulting from motherhood are gently displayed for the reader, without sentimentality or the relentless self-deprecating irony of many motherhood memoirs and blogs. As rea ...

Peter Kenneally reviews the new biography of Werner Pelz

Peter Kenneally
Tuesday, 26 March 2013

In 1985, at La Trobe University, a sociology undergraduate is in a tutorial with his supervisor. He has chosen to write 6000 words on the role of art and the artist in capitalist societies and his sixty-four-year-old tutor has, rather surprisingly, encouraged him.

In fact, as the student, Roger Averill, comes to know the older man, he realises that ‘ ...