There’s no Bisley like Steve Bisley, like no Bisley I know.
Missing his first book, Stillways, an oversight I am now committed to correcting, his latest memoir, ALL THE BURNING BRIDGES struck me like a rough diamond bullet of high calibre, cut into a quality carat.
Bisley’s prose can turn on a pin into poetry, not the flowery, floury fluff of doggerel but the flinty, truthful eloquence that comes from a life lived with words, working words, interpreting intent, lifting language from the page onto the stage or screen.
Lively, innovative, inventive and reflective, ALL THE BURNING BRIDGES is filtered through the sieve of memory reinforced by reservoirs of imagination.
From the sweet smell of soot and cinders that accompanied his journey from the family property, Stillways, to the big smoke of Sydney in 1967 to the very present now fifty years later, ALL THE BURNING BRIDGES is a journey of professional combustion and personal conflagration.
Back then, his road led to Rhodes, a boarding house on the shores of the Parramatta River and a job as a milko. Then he started driving trucks.
In September ’74, Bisley decides to audition for NIDA, paying five bucks and playing Sir Peter Teazle from The School for Scandal. He looked like a truck driver. He got a call back and succeeded in securing a place in one of Australia’s most prestigious acting academies.
He traded his truckie clobber for tights, trading steep grades for learning curves and the hairpins of life as an actor.
Student thespian in Kensington by day, bar useful at the Rex Hotel, Kings Cross by night,
I don’t know who the guardian angel of bar usefuls is, but the patron saint of actors, Genesius, was looking out for Mr. Bisley, for in the final weeks of his last year at NIDA he was asked to audition for Mad Max.
The rest, as they say, is history, and ALL THE BURNING BRIDGES is that history – lusty, gutsy, philandering and philosophical.
ALL THE BURNING BRIDGES is immensely entertaining if you’re a sucker for a good laugh and a bad shoe.
Here’s to you, Steve Bisley, for your good deed of a naughty read.
ALL THE BURNING BRIDGES by Steve Bisley. Published by Echo.
ALL THE BURNING BRIDGES will be launched with Steve Bisley in conversation with Tina Bursill on Tuesday 12 October, 6:00pm at The Leadbelly, 42 King St, Newtown. Tickets are $5 ordinarily or they are free entry with any pre-purchase of the book.