Biography and Memoirs

Jon Dale reviews 'Another Little Piece of My Heart' by Richard Goldstein

Jon Dale
30 October 2015

Richard Goldstein, one of the first rock critics, has always occupied a weird place in the history of music criticism. His memoir could have sat uneasily as an attempt to justify and reconcile his position, but instead, Goldstein taps into a strangely confessional vein, tracing his history from the Bronx to the Ballroom, finding his home at the More

Desley Deacon reviews 'Women I've Undressed' by Orry-Kelly

Desley Deacon
29 October 2015

Orry George Kelly – the Oscar-winning costume designer professionally known as Orry-Kelly – was one of the many Australians who have made it big in Hollywood. He is lucky enough to have been rediscovered by one of our major filmmakers, Gillian Armstrong. Kelly's name and story are now well known, thanks to Armstrong's recent documentary, and so is the brilliant ... More

Fiona Gruber reviews 'Banksia Lady' by Carolyn Landon

Fiona Gruber
30 September 2015

In March 2006, botanical illustrator Celia Rosser travelled to a remote station in Western Australia to witness and draw the first-ever recorded flowering of Banksia Rosserae. The spiky yellow spheres appear only after rain, which, in this arid part of the continent, can be years in the coming. The Australian plant had only been discovered four years earlier, ... More

Kevin Orrman-Rossiter reviews 'Graeme Clark' by Mark Worthing

Kevin Orrman-Rossiter
29 September 2015

The story of Graeme Clark and the cochlear implant is often seen as the exception to the research trope lauding the brilliance of Australians at basic research but lamenting their ineptness commercialising these opportunities. This book is an adulatory story of Clark’s life.

Clark’s exceptional and driven journey is breathlessly relat ... More

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'Red Professor' by Peter Monteath and Valerie Munt

Sheila Fitzpatrick
24 September 2015

I vaguely knew about Fred Rose as somebody ASIO was after in the 1950s, a communist blackened in the Petrov case who went off to live in the German Democratic Republic. During the Cold War, that kind of boundary crossing was usually definitive. If you went over the wall, you stayed over.

Not Fred Rose. He went over the wall to the GDR, but after that he kept ... More

James Ley reviews 'J.M. Coetzee and the Life of Writing' by David Attwell

James Ley
26 August 2015

Few, if any, contemporary authors have attracted the level of critical attention that is lavished upon J.M. Coetzee. No doubt there are many reasons for this, but a good part of the fascination with his fiction is a result of the evident rigour with which it is conceived. To read a Coetzee novel is to encounter a work that seems to have ... More

Kevin Rabalais reviews 'Every Time a Friend Succeeds Something Inside Me Dies' by Jay Parini

Kevin Rabalais
25 August 2015

You could call central casting for a debonair man of letters, but they’d never send someone as perfect for the role as Gore Vidal. By the time the stylish, sharp-witted – and yes, Hollywood-handsome – Vidal turned twenty-one, he had already served as first mate on a US supply ship in the Aleutian Islands duri ... More

James McNamara reviews 'Penguin and the Lane Brothers'

James McNamara
25 August 2015

Penguin is synonymous with publishing: a firm of vast influence and market share, whose ‘Classics’ imprint essentially arbitrates the modern canon. The founding myth goes something like this: Allen Lane, eccentric genius and publisher, was standing on a railway platform after a weekend with his chum, Agatha Christie. In want of a decent, cheap read, he visited a ... More

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Thea Astley' by Karen Lamb

Kerryn Goldsworthy
24 August 2015

‘If there are going to be any more of her novels, perhaps we should come right out and promote her as an utter bitch?’

So wrote Alec Bolton, the London manager of Angus & Robertson, to his senior editor John Abernethy in Sydney. The novelist in question was Thea Astley, and the book was A Boat Load of Home Folk (1968). Bol ... More

Judith Armstrong reviews 'Ransacking Paris' by Patti Miller

Judith Armstrong
29 May 2015

Patti Miller has written four books of or about memoir, one of which, The Mind of a Thief (UQP, 2012) won the New South Wales Premier’s History Award, and she has taught life writing for more than twenty years. Yet her most recent publication, Ransacking Paris, while enjoyable at one level, is disappointing at another. There is a serious mismatch bet ... More

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