A Bone of Fact is really memoir as a form of self-portraiture and, David Walsh being who he is, not much is held back. He is garrulous, sardonic, impudent, without shame and without inhibitions; but he also has a vein of kindness to his person that makes the encounter with him ultimately worthwhile.
Chast burrows into this feral old age and draws it out with uncanny, page-expanding, emotional precision. It is not reporting from the trenches, or a facing-down of the last frontier, but something else. Chast is giving over a whole multi-tracked, multi-voiced, sensory feast of a book to something – something barely bearable sometimes, and infused with pain and dread always; something that gets sprinted past, or poeticised to within an inch of its life, or else chronicled with a deadly, breathless earnestness – and she does it in such a way that I could not tear myself away from her book.
2014 has been something of a watershed year for books on Australian politics. Of course, this is hardly surprising. The soap opera of the Gillard and Rudd years will probably exercise politicians, analysts and biographers for years to come. But we are currently facing something of an armada – to steal a phrase from the popular media – of political memoirs and biographies.