Biography

At The Limits of Liberalism: The Enigmatic Mr Deakin

Why then is Brett’s new biography important? It is important, because, written with conspicuous skill and economy, it is the leading continuation and affirmation of Deakin’s liberal-progressive life and work in our own troubled times of short parliaments and major geopolitical changes – the rise of China at a time of uncertainty about US leadership in the world today. It is important because, in those ways, it offers the most rational defence of Deakin’s nation against the changes he already saw the need to guard it against. But while the biography presents the face of liberal reason and a sharp, though still sympathetic psychological and political portrait, it generates a certain silence. Its greatest importance may indeed be that it takes us to the limits of its liberal comfort zone. For at that limit, it becomes possible to see how the biography’s minimal history represents the ongoing liberal denial of the geopolitical reality that was a mainspring of federation.

Bronwyn Oliver

A Grand Completeness:
Bronwyn Oliver: Strange Things

ink is as scrupulous, in her way, as her subject was. By which I mean she is able, most of the time, to avoid comment. She doesn’t editorialise. The significance of events in Oliver’s life is allowed to emerge from contemporary testimony, perhaps, or from narrative juxtaposition, or simply because of the baleful grandeur of Oliver’s commitment to her work and the sometimes alarming consequences of her dedication.

After Kathy Acker a biography by Chris Kraus

Discarding Congeniality:
lessons from the life of Kathy Acker

'Kraus’s oeuvre has been dedicated to the writing of unlikeable women; challenging congeniality as the bedrock of femininity and exploring the uncomfortable and often humorous situations generated by ambitious, creative women when they cast off congeniality and conventional sexuality. That Acker was a difficult, competitive and transient friend, peer, collaborator and lover makes her an ideal subject for Kraus to continue her work of intervening in conversations about women writers, what the avant-garde is and where it is located.' 

A Writing Life cover

Love and Rhetoric: A Writing Life

'I had the sensation of ‘growing up’ as a result of reading Brennan’s book. This statement expects no flabbergasted reaction. Many of us know that books have tracked our lives – and with Garner, it is from inner-city, communal living in Monkey Grip, to families in The Children’s Bach, to the enigma of the spiritual in Cosmo Cosmolino, to death in The Spare Room.'

Grand Hotel Abyss by Stuart Jeffries book cover

Politics Without Gasoline:
Grand Hotel Abyss

''Stuart Jeffries’ group biography, Grand Hotel Abyss tells the story of the Frankfurt School, its central figures, and their most significant affiliates. The collective accomplishment of these thinkers, it shows, was to develop a critical theory with which to apprehend what it means to live and think through an historical period during which the left would achieve fewer and fewer victories.' '

No Way But This by Jeff Sparrow book cover

What Ghosts We Might Rise: No Way But This

In writing No Way But This Sparrow seeks to reanimate not only the ghost of Paul Robeson but those of his family, friends and comrades. In other words, this book has an avowedly political goal. It revives Robeson as a model of integrity and bravery – someone who, despite the precarity of his social position, risked his life and career for the ideas of workers’ rights, black liberation, anti-colonialism and international socialism.

The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf book cover

Wild Things: The Invention of Nature
by Andrea Wulf

'It doesn't matter that Wulf's The Invention of Nature is a bit breathless in keeping up with its dazzling hero, and a bit coy about his relationships, because above all the book is intelligent, an optimistic history, well researched, well written, and an ecological cri de coeur.'

Lancelot Brown and the Capability Men cover