The Good Greek Girl by Maria Katsonis had been on my to read pile for a while. I enjoyed it very much, reading it in one sitting. It’s great strength is it’s succinctness and honesty about ordinary people dealing with some pretty big issues. You relate to the tale told even if you have not experienced exactly the same circumstances. Family relationships are almost always fraught, parental expectations are rarely met. Maria tells her story in a way that draws you in and sweeps you along. Her descriptions of the deaths of both of her parents, and of her reconciliation with her father, moved me very much. This is a brave book too, shining a light on something that is too often hidden as Maria describes being overcome by depression. You cheer her on as she confronts this frightening illness and emerge from the book with a greater understanding of its impact on people. A really good book.

Reckoning by Magda Szubanski was similar in some ways to Maria’s. A story of growing up trying to meet impossibly high expectations of immigrant fathers. Both talk about the pressures of coming out as gay to their parents. How fraught that is. Magda has the added dilemma about coming out as a famous figure. She also talks about needing to understand her father’s actions and motivations as a key figure in the Polish resistance movement during the Second World War. All of this at the same time that she is struggling to find her way in life, finding feminism at Melbourne University and left wing politics, in and out of share houses in Carlton and Fitzroy. All of that was pretty familiar. Finally she finds her role as a comedian with like minded funny feminists. Her search for herself, and reconciliation with her demanding father has a deeper context because of the war history. I thought the concluding chapters were a bit rushed. But overall an interesting story of a woman with an interesting past.

Girl In A Band by Kim Gordon. Another memoir by another feisty woman. I knew nothing about Sonic Youth the band referred to in the title and googling the various performances Kim talks about in these pages I didn’t like their stuff much. But I did like the girl a lot. Her writing is very direct and searingly honest about herself as much as everyone else. A story about a band, how creative people work and about a relationship – from start to finish. It starts with the end – of the band which is caused by the end of the relationship around which it was built. Clear sighted and no self pity. Best thing about it was the succinctness – there’s not a single extraneous word or paragraph. No surfeit of detail, but what she talks about lets you in to see just enough. About how a band works. About a relationship. About the family she grew up in and the one she created. All very interesting about the band bit and sad about the relationship bit. You are barracking for her throughout and googling after I’m pleased to see how she has progressed after the end of both band and relationship.

 

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