Lives by Peter Robb was the book that I decided upon when we visited the NLA bookshop. There were many I could have purchased but this was the one I settled on.
I haven’t read any of his previous books but this book appealed to me with its cover, initially, and then the opening first paragraph.
“When the Olympic Games came to Sydney in 2000 I decided to rent a TV and watch some. Tweaking the rabbit’s ears – no time for an antenna – I watched Cathy and Ian and the others going for gold in extreme blizzard conditions. Outside in the real, mild world I saw triathletes ride their bikes up through the Domain and the marathon runners pass through Taylor Square. The marathon is the greatest thing in sport and the runners who followed the painted blue line out along Anzac Parade still had in them something of the Greek messenger, the barefoot Ethiopian shepherd.”
The first paragraph was such a contradiction to the beautiful artistic face on the cover. I immediately wanted to read more.
Lives is a collection of essays, diaries, interviews and reviews on the lives of Australians, in the first section and then the lives of those from elsewhere.
According to the blurb on the front cover:
People and their lives, past and present, in life and in art, single and collective, in flesh and in words, in moments and years, in Australia, Italy and elsewhere.
This is a wonderful book and contains insights into such people as Ivan Milat, Julian Assange, Glenn Murcatt, Akira Isogawa, Frederico Fellini, Gore Vidal, Joseph Conrad and Mark Twain just to name a few.
You can find a detailed review at The Sydney Morning Herald.