Memoir

MARK MORRIS :  OUT LOUD A MEMOIR

From the very first page Morris’ warm , flamboyant voice captivates us in this intimate , extremely revealing book .Out loud and proud. You feel as if he is talking to you as a close friend.The book itself is of medium size and fairly thick , delightfully illustrated , with a great index at the back. It is written by Morris in collaboration with novelist/singer-songwriter Wesley Stace with great panache and frankness.

Dance lovers might be aware of Joan Acoclla’s 1993 biography
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OUT LOUD takes you on a roller coaster ride through Morris’s personal life interwoven with the history of his company, the Mark Morris Dance Group .It also considers the history of modern dance and how this is linked to music through the ages.( Look at the range of composers Morris has worked with – everyone from Bach, Brahms ,Handel, Purcell, and Poulenc , Stravinsky, Vivaldi,– as well as Gershwin , Lou Harrison, Indian classical music , the Louvin Brothers, and Thai pop artists. Morris insists on live music and is extremely attentive to the score.) Mark Morris Dance Group is one of America’s major modern-dance companies, and Morris has long been regarded as both naughty and delightful as well as discerning . He has a great eye for the significant detail. Continue reading MARK MORRIS :  OUT LOUD A MEMOIR

HOME WORK: FROM MARY POPPINS TO VICTOR VICTORIA

Towards the end of her latest book, HOME WORK, Julie Andrews writes, “The most important thing I have learned is the simplest of all: people are just people – no matter their politics, their skin colour or where they live. There is no difference in our humanity; only in our circumstances.”

The circumstances of Julie Andrews’ life has been one of luck and privilege, endowed with a unique voice, mentored by giants, a talent that gained resilience from hard work, and an ability to seize on opportunity when it knocked.

The title of the book, HOME WORK, refers to the juggle of career and domestic life, a balancing act of blurred edges seeing that she was married to film maker, Blake Edwards, and they worked on many projects together.

Julie writes that her favourite song from The Sound of Music is Edelweiss. To her it’s an anthem that speaks to one’s homeland, no matter where that may be. Julie confides that she spent so much of her early life trying to unify her need for home with her commitment to work.

“These days I’ve come to realise that home is a feeling as much as it is a place; it is as much about loving what I do as being where I am.”

Subtitled A Memoir of my Hollywood Years, HOME WORK picks up from her first film, Mary Poppins, for which she won an Oscar and takes us through to Victor, Victoria, for which she was nominated again for an Academy Award.

Co written with daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, HOME WORK is revealing without being a salacious tell all. It chronicles the failure of her first marriage to designer, Tony Walton, the grueling treadmill of her first years in Hollywood – she completed three pictures before Mary Poppins was released – her decision to enter psycho analyses, and her subsequent romance, marriage and life with Blake Edwards, her “Blackie”, mercurial of mind and mood, the always admired artist, the not so admirable spouse. Still, the marriage lasted 41 years, till death did he part.

HOME WORK is peppered with showbiz anecdote – why Omar Sharif might have been a better fit for Inspector Clouseau – and littered with terrific photographs.

Candor with a spoonful of sugar, HOME WORK presents home truths in a most delightful way.

HOME WORK by Julie Andrews is published by W&N.

 

PAUL GALLEN : HEART AND SOUL

There is usually a rush of sports books as a reliable stocking filler for Dad’s to read on their annual holidays.

The most recent of these is for fans of rugby league in the form of Paul Gallen autobiography HEART AND SOUL.

There is a risk that this book launch last week at Dymocks will be overshadowed by the recent boxing match entitled ‘The Code Wars’ between Room rugby league great Paul Gallen and Aussie Rules great Barry Hall.

The match resulted in a controversial draw and there is talk of a rematch.

I suspect that the fight may help book sales and the reviews may use boxing metaphors such as no holes barred and straight shooting.

But above all his rugby league career has been illustrious. Like the title of the book he has given his heart and soul for his club, his state and his country. As a long time captain of the Cronulla Sharks he led them to their very first premiership. He has led the New South Wales Blues to a long awaited win in the Store ate Of Origin series and he has played more than thirty tests for the Kangaroos.

There have also been lows when the Sharks were embroiled in a long running ASADA investigation into pep tide use. Throughout these issues Gallen is always bruisingly frank which may divide both the media and his fans.

Nonetheless his heart filled devotion go the code at all levels shines through.

 

 

 

EILEEN: STORIES FROM THE PHILLIP STREET COURTYARD

 

At 104 Eileen Kramer has led an incredible life, some of which is vividly evoked in this book.

Born in Sydney in 1914, Kramer was an original member of Australia’s first modern dance company, the influential Bodenwieser Ballet, and has lived and danced everywhere from India to Paris, London and New York.

Eileen originally wanted to be an opera singer and studied at the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney. She came to dance relatively late in life, joining the Bodenwieser Ballet company, Australia’s first professional modern dance company, in 1940.

Sue Healey has produced a short film entitled Eileen about Kramer and she is regarded as a National Treasure by the Arts Health Institute .

Kramer left Australia in the 1950s, performing around the world and meeting contemporary artists who have gone down in history as legends – for example Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. In fact,  Armstrong taught her the twist in Paris!

Having travelled around the world for 60 years. Eileen returned to Australia permanently in 2014 at the age of 99. She wanted to hear the sound of a kookaburra and smell the gum trees again.

This is a relatively small book lavishly illustrated with both black and white photos as well as bold, colourful drawings by Kramer.

The book is divided into thirty four chapters, with an introduction by Tracey Spring. Each chapter is about a specific memory of a person or particular event, mainly spanning the five years of her life as a young woman from 1936 to 1940 when she lived at or near Philip St

It is vividly written one feels as if Kramer is talking directly to the reader. The book is beautifully presented and includes a table of contents at the front, as well as a list of photo credits at the back. Sadly there is no index provided at the back.

The many people written about include Rosaleen Norton, who would go on to become the ‘Witch of Kings Cross’, the learned and rather enigmatic Joan, and the beautiful model, Ann. Life in the area is described , and how the cityscape has changed greatly.( Not to mention her battles with bedbugs).

There is also a marvellous word portrait of her landlady and others as well as the homeless men who inhabited the Domain ( the ‘Domain Dossers ‘ ).As well,  there is a segment on her mother working as a store detective at Farmers.

We learn about Kramer’s private life to a degree and her relationships with three men over time in particular – Dr Richard Want , Darley and painter Rah Fizelle.

Kramer became a professional artist’s model, sitting for Norman Lindsey and other modern painters of Sydney. (A glamorous black and white photo is included ).Eileen’s first boyfriend, Dr Want , was a Freudian psychoanalyst and they would spend their Sundays at the Art Gallery of NSW and Speakers Corner at the Domain.

Many dancers and theatre people from the 1930s and 1940s remember Sydney’s Phillip Street as a place where they lived, including ballerina Tamara Tchinarova Finch who lived in a Phillip Street apartment with her mother when they decided to stay in Australia in 1939 after the tour by the Covent Garden Russian Ballet.

Dance lovers will be tantalised by the mentions towards the end of the book about Kramer’s discovery of and work with Bodenweiser … but there is lots more to be said – perhaps expanded into a second book focusing on that major part of her life ? At 104 Kramer is perhaps the longest-working dancer and choreographer in Australia, if not the globe , still going strong and an enormous inspirational force.

https://www.melbournebooks.com.au/products/eileen

Published by Melbourne Books
www.melbournebooks.com.au
B format 139x210mm Hard cover with cloth quarter bind
206 pages colour illustrations throughout
RRP: AUD$39.95 ISBN: 9781925556391

 

SHANE WARNE’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY : NO SPIN

To some Australians Shane Warne is a legend but others see him as deeply flawed. To set the record straight  and dispel some of these  views, Shane Warne has written his pull no punches autobiography, NO SPIN. Some will be interested in his cricketing career including the co called Ball Of The Century to dismiss Mike Gatting as well as his history making 700th Test wicket. The  Sultan of Spin also sheds light on the art of leg-spin bowling, unveiling how he delivered some of his most potent deliveries.

Then there is the other Shane Warne, with scandal involving the use of a diuretic pill in South Africa, and allegations of links to Indian cricket betting. After pledging  that he would not smoke there is the busting of this pledge by a schoolboy. There are his hair restorative commercials and of-course his magazine page filling relationship with Elizabeth Hurley. Shane Warne’s book does not shy away from  any of these controversies, facing them head-on. Continue reading SHANE WARNE’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY : NO SPIN

STARS ON STAGE : A CONVERSATION WITH REG LIVERMORE

 

On a hot Sydney weekend afternoon in November fans of a near-octogenarian queued for the signing of his latest book. Stars on Stage A Conversation with Reg Livermore saw Reg Livermore return to The Independent Theatre to talk about the book and his life with ABC Radio presenter James Valentine. It was at the Independent Theatre that Reg Livermore did theatre training as a schoolboy. The two of them appeared relaxed as they conversed about life stages and the stages on which Reg had appeared in his career from early teens until now. These aspects appear in Stages – Reg Livermore A Memoir (Hardie Grant Books, 2018).

A true legend of Australian Theatre, from serious drama to cabaret and more, Reg Livermore has received more than a dozen major awards. He has been a performer, writer, designer and director and appeared on television. In the last few years, he has received three lifetime achievement awards.

In conversation, Reg reflected on some of the relationships, triumphs and tragedies that have shaped him both as a person and performer. Ensuring that he was speaking directly to the audience, Reg appeared variously energetic, sparkling, reflective, matter-of-fact and opinionated. Clearly he demonstrated that he is a person to be respected and listened to if one is at all interested in Australian theatre of the last 66 years and curious about possible life lessons as well as theatrical ones. He did not shy away from failure, had felt its sting and accepted it as part of life. He accepts failure but owns his triumphs. This may be key to his theatrical longevity. Continue reading STARS ON STAGE : A CONVERSATION WITH REG LIVERMORE

WORKING CLASS BOY : THE EARLY LIFE OF JIMMY BARNES

Just finished reading WORKING CLASS BOY the first instalment of the story of James Dixon Swan, aka – Jimmy Barnes. As usual I am about six months behind the times, the book was published to much fanfare last year, ironically when Barnsey was doing publicity for the book at various venues in Sydney I was in Glasgow. In a pub, about ten minutes from Cowcaddens, the rough area that Barnes lived in until the age of five.  That’s just how life is sometimes, but back to the real story.

Barnes’ home life in both Glasgow and Elizabeth, SA (where he spent most of his youth) was shambolic, the family lived in poverty and violence was commonplace. The stories he tells make your hair stand on end, the two bottles of vodka a day that became a regular feature of his later life start making sense. His substance abuse was not the usual garden variety abuse of the ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll crowd. Barnes was in need of more anesthetizing, to banish the memories of his troubled upbringing. Yet he tells it with such candour and humour that the reader is drawn in to the grey streets of Glasgow and South Australia willingly and we are happy to take the journey with him, and to some pretty dark places. Continue reading WORKING CLASS BOY : THE EARLY LIFE OF JIMMY BARNES

BRITISH WRITER AND CRITIC A.A.GILL POURS OUT HIS LIFE INTO A BOOK

Pour Me
The author at his writing desk. Photo credit- JEREMY YOUNG/REX SHUTTERSTOCK

“There was a green carpet…the colour of algae, the damp green of penicillin. I remember how it smelt, it was like a living thing, the pelt of something that hid terrified and shivering. The bed was big. It smelt like it had been having rough, non consensual sex with the carpet.”

Such are the real estate reminiscence of A.A.Gill’s early digs when he was an alcohol addled student painter. Such is the tone of his memoir, POUR ME : A LIFE.

One of the reasons of writing the book of his life, Gill assures us, is that he can’t really remember any of it – childhood, school, holidays, friends, drinking.

The act of writing, of tapping keys, might jog something, lead back to clues, digging a hole to discover his young self. Continue reading BRITISH WRITER AND CRITIC A.A.GILL POURS OUT HIS LIFE INTO A BOOK