Memoir

Elisabeth Holdsworth reviews 'Flight from the Brothers Grimm: A European- Australian memoir' by Valerie Murray

Elisabeth Holdsworth

Valerie Murray, born Valika Morelli in Hungary during World War II and, for the past half century, wife of poet Les Murray, has written an enchanting memoir of her early life in Europe and Australia. The description ‘enchanting’ is used deliberately. The brothers Grimm and their terrifying tales are deployed throughout the work. The metaphor extends to the writi ... More

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Only: A singular memoir' by Caroline Baum

Gillian Dooley

Some ‘only’ children have revelled in that status. Iris Murdoch called her family unit ‘a perfect trinity of love’. Caroline Baum sees her family less happily as a triangle: ‘There’s something uncomfortable about a triangle: it’s all elbows, suggesting awkward unease.’ We find out in the following 380-odd pages the whats and whys of this discomfort. ... More

Duncan Fardon reviews 'Scoundrel Days: A memoir' by Brentley Frazer

Duncan Fardon

Brentley Frazer, one of many scoundrels in his memoir Scoundrel Days, documents coming of age on the boundary of civilisation. His father’s vocation as the only policeman in a small northern Queensland mining town subjects Frazer to a chaotic side of life: a lockup only a stone’s throw from his bedroom; housing criminals and murderous poachers; bloodied ... More

Morag Fraser reviews 'Light and Shadow: Memoirs of a spy's son' by Mark Colvin

Morag Fraser

Mark Colvin’s fine memoir – of a journalist’s life and as a spy’s son – was completed before the Macquarie Dictionary chose ‘fake news’ as its word of the year, and the OED and Merriam-Webster opted for ‘post truth’ and ‘surreal’. In July 2016, as Colvin was writing his acknowledgments chapter, Donald Trump was being nominated ... More

Sue Bond reviews 'Saltwater' by Cathy McLennan

Sue Bond

This book is likely to anger many readers. Saltwater is about Cathy McLennan’s time as a barrister for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service on Palm Island and More

Kate Ryan reviews 'Poum and Alexandre: A Paris memoir' by Catherine de Saint Phalle

Kate Ryan

Catherine de Saint Phalle’s memoir brings us the developing consciousness of a star-struck but lonely child as she struggles to understand and negotiate parents who ...

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Suzy Freeman-Greene reviews 'In the Darkroom' by Susan Faludi

Suzy Freeman-Greene

The subject line of the email ­– from a father in Budapest to his daughter in Oregon – is ‘Changes’. ‘I’ve got some interesting news for you,’ writes Steven. ‘I have de More

Dilan Gunawardana reviews 'Songs of a War Boy' by Deng Thiak Adut and Ben McKelvey

Dilan Gunawardana

Songs are of great importance to the Dinka people of South Sudan. ‘They’re our avatars, and our biographies. They precede us, introduce us, and live on after we die,’ writes the refugee advocate, Archibald muse, and NSW Australian of the Year for 2017, Deng Thiak Adut. His memoir, Songs of a War Boy, serves as a profound if disturbing ballad to his tr ... More

Michael McGirr reviews 'Press Escape' by Shaun Carney

Michael McGirr

You can judge this memoir by its poignant cover. It shows a picture of the author taken in 1966 when he was eight or nine years old. Behind him is one of the accessories of the baby boomer period, a Volkswagen. The Beetle is parked near long grass, redolent of Melbourne’s outer suburban fringe, an area that features prominently in Shaun Carney’s account of his o ... More

Jan McGuinness reviews 'Bob Ellis: In his own words' by Bob Ellis, compiled by Anne Brooksbank

Jan McGuinness

In his introduction to Bob Ellis: In his own words, Bob’s son Jack says of his father that ‘writing was his reason for being ... and through his writing he saw himself in conv More

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