Memoir

Kevin Rabalais reviews 'Between Them: Remembering my parents' by Richard Ford

Kevin Rabalais

'Our parents intimately link us, closeted as we are in our lives, to a thing we’re not, forging a joined separateness and a useful mystery, so that even together with them we are also alone,’ writes Richard Ford early in ‘My Mother, In Memory’, the first of the two memoirs that comprise Between Them, the Pulitzer Prize winner’s bewitching first bo ... More

Suzy Freeman-Greene reviews 'Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and me' by Bill Hayes

Suzy Freeman-Greene

When Oliver Sacks began seeing Bill Hayes in 2009, he had never been in a relationship. He wasn’t out as a gay man and hadn’t had sex for thirty-five years. Sacks, the celebrated author and neurologist, was almost thirty years older than Hayes, who had moved to New York from San Francisco after the sudden death of his partner. The two visited the Museum of Natur ... More

Dennis Altman reviews 'And Then I Found Me' by Noel Tovey

Dennis Altman

Looking back on his career, Noel Tovey writes: ‘I could work in three languages. I had dined in the finest restaurants in Europe and America with pop stars and royalty and I had a career in the theatre that most Australians would envy.’ The man who wrote these words grew up an abused and neglected child. When he was seventeen, he served time in Melbourne’s Pen ... More

Katy Gerner reviews 'Beyond the Vapour Trail: The beauty, horror and humour of life: An aid worker’s story' by Brett Pierce

Katy Gerner

Beyond the Vapour Trail, a memoir-cum-travel book spanning six continents, concerns the author’s experiences as an aid worker for non-government organisations such as World Vision. Brett Pierce’s work involves researching and setting up community projects, and adapting and remodelling child sponsorship programs. He describes it as ‘sitting down with t ... More

Suzy Freeman-Greene reviews 'The Political is Personal: A 20th century memoir' by Judith Buckrich

Suzy Freeman-Greene

It is rare to read a memoir as joyfully insouciant about sex as Judith Buckrich’s The Political Is Personal. She describes the delicious state of discovering it, at seventeen, as ‘a sex haze’. At nineteen, she has an intense, dark-eyed boyfriend but is also sleeping with Morry, whose chief merit is his staying power in bed. ‘Once, to prove the point ... More

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Subtle Moments: Scenes on a life’s journey' by Bruce Grant

Alison Broinowski

Opposite a handsome portrait of him by Louis Kahan, Bruce Grant introduces his memoir of a ‘life’s journey’ by proposing that it is also a biography of Australia, and promising to revisit that on the last page. There, he summarises the plots of ‘Love in the Asian Century’, his recent trilogy of e-books, in which affairs between older men and younger women, ... More

Gillian Dooley reviews 'After' by Nikki Gemmell

Gillian Dooley

In 2015, Nikki Gemmell’s mother, Elayn, took an overdose of painkillers. Gemmell’s new book, After, chronicles the difficult process of confronting her mother’s death and resolving the anguish it brought to her and her children. It is also an impassioned appeal for changes in Australia’s laws on the right to die.

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Diana Bagnall reviews 'The Case Against Fragrance' by Kate Grenville

Diana Bagnall

Kate Grenville’s publisher wasn’t keen on her writing a book about fragrance. He would have preferred another novel from the author of ...

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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

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