By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Griffith Review33: Such is Life
Edited by Julianne Schultz (Text Publishing, $24.95, softcover, 261 pages)
Displaying candour is uplifting, especially when it comes to gaining insights into overcoming trials and tribulations faced by people every day. Importantly, how they overcome difficulties is what makes for intelligent reading.
Many such tales are showcased in Such is Life, a lively combination from some of Australia’s best emerging and established writers that glides over as memoirs, personal essay, reportage, poetry and picture gallery.
Julianne Schultz says: “…the desire to learn from the stories of others, to make sense of our own lives by delving into the detail of the lives of others, is something that is deeply embedded”.
GR33 has many fine examples.
The essay by Frank Moorhouse ‘Beyond Stigma: Musings on the Sadness of Privacy’ raises some pertinent questions about setting limits to our natural curiosity.
Moorhouse illustrates his liberal thesis with an anecdote about Australia’s first openly gay High Court justice Michael Kirby who is the subject of A.J. Brown’s biography Michael Kirby: Paradoxes and Principles.
This is where Brown, in his own essay, ‘The Living Subject: Warts and All’, considers the importance of balance by a biographer between access to his subject and maintaining a journalistic detachment that’s imperative for a serious study.
However, some public figures were not so receptive. A case in point is former US vice-president Dick Cheney who is the subject of Matthew Ricketson’s essay, ‘The Blind Side: Deciding What to Tell’.
In ‘Nine-eleven-itis’, Shakira Hussein (an Australian and a Pakistani) writes a refined example of a memoir that provides a revealing insight into the common views in Pakistan after the terrorist attacks of September 11. She is acutely receptive to the misunderstanding and mistrust that occurred along with the war on terror.
The 33rd Griffith Review is skilfully edited with some other exceptional works from Lloyd Jones, Marion Halligan, Raimond Gaita, Peter Bishop and Maria Tumarkin.
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.