Biography and Memoirs

In 2006, novelist Ann Patchett found herself in the midst of intense controversy. Truth and Beauty, an account of her friendship with the late writer Lucy Grealy, had been allocated as a text for freshmen at Clemson University, South Carolina. One parent objected because the book depicted an intense affection between two women, discussed premarital sex, ...

White Beech

John Thompson
Thursday, 16 January 2014

John Thompson examines Germaine Greer’s sober, meditative, deeply moving account of her efforts to regenerate sixty hectares of degraded rainforest in the Gold Coast hinterland.

... (read more)

Michael Crennan reviews the biography of Henry Friendly

Michael Crennan
Thursday, 28 November 2013

Henry Friendly was a judge of the highest reputation – greater than Learned Hand in Justice Scalia’s opinion. His output was prodigious, his legacy unmatched: of his fifty-one clerks, twenty-one (including the present incumbent) became justices of the Supreme Court of the United States; in that Court’s decisions, only Learned Hand was cited more often th ...

Graeme Powell reviews 'An Unqualified Success'

Graeme Powell
Thursday, 28 November 2013

In 1939 President Roosevelt nominated the poet Archibald MacLeish to be the Librarian of Congress, replacing Herbert Putnam, who had held the post since 1899. MacLeish had not previously been employed in a library. American librarians reacted to the news with outrage and disbelief, with one of their leaders claiming that he could no more think of a poet as the ...

Sara Savage reviews 'Banana Girl'

Sara Savage
Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Writing a memoir at the age of thirty may seem like an exercise in self-indulgence: what wisdom could one possibly impart amid the universal tumultuousness of the Saturn Return? Seemingly aware of the predicament, the author of Banana Girl doesn’t pretend to deliver any answers, her memoir instead giving a more immediate snapshot into the life of a tw ...

Debbie Hamilton's 'Out of Bounds'

Debi Hamilton
Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Last week I received an envelope in the mail, the address written in my father’s hand. My heart accelerated a little and it struck me as unseemly, at my age and in my circumstances, to be still so easily rattled by a parent.

The envelope was light – inside I found only a newspaper clipping and a small note. I spread them out on the kitchen bench. A frien ...

Ian Gibbins on 'Gardens of Fire'

Ian Gibbins
Wednesday, 27 November 2013

As I write this article in my Adelaide Hills home, surrounded by native eucalypts and introduced fruit trees, large areas in New South Wales are dealing with the consequences of some of the worst bushfires in recorded history. Remarkably, given the unseasonally extreme weather, the rugged terrain, and the ferocity of the fires the ...

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Moving Among Strangers'

Susan Sheridan
Wednesday, 27 November 2013

When Gabrielle Carey wrote Puberty Blues (1979) with her school friend Kathy Lette, it was closely based on her own experience as a teenager. This initiated a writing career specialising in autobiography. Her novel The Borrowed Girl (1994) is based on her experience of living in a Mexican village, and So Many Selves ...

Robyn Williams on Stephen Hawking

Robyn Williams
Wednesday, 27 November 2013

ABR Radio National’s Robyn Williams reviews Stephen Hawking’s memoirs and recalls his two interviews with the remarkable and remarkably long-lived author–scientist.

... (read more)

Shannon Burns reviews a new biography of Derrida

Shannon Burns
Thursday, 31 October 2013

By what right, and in accordance with what set of social conditions or teleological commitments, ideologies, cultural and biographical conventions, and in whose name might one begin to speak of, formulate, detail, or analyse the life of Jackie aka ‘Jacques’ Derrida?

...