Of the biographies I read in 2017, I thought these six very good.
- Our Man Elsewhere: In Search of Alan Moorehead / by Thornton McCamish (2016)
“This is a biography which gives a vivid sense of life and culture in the mid-twentieth century. It reflects in an indirect but profound way on what makes life meaningful and how the past is present – or not – today. It didn’t leave me with a strong desire to read Moorehead’s work but it did leave me with a strong desire to read whatever book McCamish writes next.” – My review
- The Enigmatic Mr Deakin / Judith Brett (2017)
“Brett’s biography is wise and compellingly readable. She captures the experience of living, the passing of years, the shifts in attitude and fortune, the development of character. Even if the promises of spiritualism were false and Deakin’s spirit cannot be summoned, The Enigmatic Mr Deakin brings him to life as much as a biography can hope to do. May it foster a wider understanding of a man worth remembering.” – My review
- The Boyds: A Family Biography / Brenda Niall (2002)
A book that takes us through a couple of centuries of Australian life through the eyes of one family. It’s a superb example of a rare and difficult genre.
– My review
- Capote / by Gerald Clarke (1988)
“It reads so smoothly, so effortlessly in a way which only a great biographer can achieve and only then with much sweat. It follows Capote from his troubled childhood in Alabama and the wounds his selfish parents inflicted on him to his emergence as a literary wunderkind in New York and the successes of his early and mid-career to the tragic descent into writer’s block, alcoholism, and exile from the circles of the wealthy and celebrities he had moved in. It’s a tragedy and it’s told with a restraint, clarity, and insight which make it compelling.” – My review
- Kylie Tennant: A Life / by Jane Grant (2006)
A compelling biography of a true character in Australian literature. I was impressed by how much Grant achieves in such a short book.
– My review
- A Life Discarded / by Alexander Masters (2016)
Masters pieces together the life of an unknown person from the hundreds of diaries they left behind in a skip bin. It’s a page-turning biographical quest, intriguing and fun and both sad and heart-warming. But it also felt somewhat contrived to me, as Masters shapes his quest to eke out the suspense. (Not reviewed.)