What do disappointment, age, repeated injury, physical deterioration, last hopes, and the triumphs of rivals do to a sportsman and the narrative of his life? With so much unwritten, we can only ask, Why now? Why not wait until after the Big Three retire?
A review of Henry David Thoreau : A Life by Laura Dassow Walls
I reveled in this book because, unlike others before it, it is not fragmented, incongruent, or just a compilation of interesting facts. But rather, it reads as though Thoreau lived much more recently and the author had interviewed in-person, first-hand witnesses to his life simply because it flows from birth to death without a sense of missing information or lapses in time. On any given page you may learn about the weather that day or how late Thoreau stayed up as if it were all recorded and timestamped on videotape for the author to view and re-view.
A review of Virginia Woolf and the Women who Shaped her World by Gillian Gill
Gill’s book is a tour de force in bringing together information about Virginia Woolf’s Pattle ancestors and the Thackeray connection; in showing the damaging patriarchal milieu out of which she fought her way, and in highlighting her use of autobiographical material in her novels.
A Review of Heavier Than Heaven by Charles R. Cross
Author Charlie R. Cross gives readers a peek into Cobain’s brief life via the singer’s unpublished journal entries, letters, drawings, and home videos. Cobain’s widow and feminist icon Courtney Love gave Cross access to the documents, which was more than helpful because the singer was notoriously for keeping notes of all of his thoughts and experiences.
A review of Monash’s Masterpiece by Peter FitzSimons
I’m a military history aficionado, and the amount of information presented within this book is astonishing. I can only guess at how much research went into the preliminaries, and can see similarities to Sir John Monash’s extensive planning before the Battle of Le Hamel. I’m visualising somewhere in Mosman these large white-boards and spreadsheets travelling all around the walls of the FitzSimon’s operations-centre with countless pages of information attached to them.
A Review of Fire Road by Kim Phuc Phan Thi
A person who has experienced deep tragedy and lived to tell the story often comes to grips with profound truths along the way. Such is the case with Phan Thi. As she started her recovery, she had to endure daily baths to treat her burns. She says, “Those baths were worse than death itself. Dying is far worse than death.” As I’ve observed this with people I know in my own life, I know this is a profound truth.
Behind the Scenes with the Master of Espionage Thrillers: A review of The Pigeon Tunnel by John le Carré
I closed The Pigeon Tunnel wanting more. More behind-the-scenes confessions. More striking prose from this master of evocative description. But Cornwell knows when and how to end a tale and leaves us with an anecdote loaded with both humor and irony.
A review of Andrei Tarkovsky by Sean Martin
An artist who set himself the task of capturing consciousness on the hoof, making tangible the fleeting quail of phenomenal experience, Tarkovsky made things hard for himself and harder still for all directors who would follow in his footsteps. Man, he set the bar high. Even Bergman, one of the true greats, acknowledges that he is without peer.
A review of Mick: A life of Randolph Stow by Suzanne Falkiner
This first full biography by Suzanne Falkiner of Julian Randolph Stow, known by those close to him as Mick, is thorough and engaging. I first encountered his novels at university twenty-five years ago, and was drawn to the mysterious Visitants, the subject of our study at the time, and later read The suburbs of hell, but it wasn’t until I first heard that this biography was being published that I read two more of his novels to remind myself of his depth and style.
A review of Prince: Purple Reign by Mick Wall
After reading this book, Prince remains enigmatic, and perhaps that’s part of the tribute. This is a man whose legacy was his music, an oeuvre that not only provided a platform that many of today’s most respected musicians have built their careers on, but one that continues to develop the more you listen to it. There’s so much more to listen to than simply the big hits, though those hits are far more complex than the instant pop accessibility of it would suggest.