Book Review | Brisbane by Matthew Condon

Brisbane Review Paige's Pages.jpgTITLE: Brisbane
: Matthew Condon
: University of New South Wales Press
: December 15, 2010
: Nonfiction, Memoir, History
: 312

Australian author and journalist, Matthew Condon, captures the essence of his childhood city in this memoir of Brisbane’s past and present.  As a fellow “Brisbanite”, I struggled to relate to Condon’s romantic point of view.    

Brisbane pieces together the city’s elusive history with painstaking detail.  The key focus is on rediscovering John Oxley’s original 1824 landing site, following the misjudgment of the memorial’s placement in North Quay.

To avoid being too dry, Condon breaks up the book with personal anecdotes from his childhood and interactions with his young son in the present day.  Although this nostalgia can be cloying, his writing is a lot more engaging here, adding a pinch of tasteful narrative to an otherwise very bland book.  Condon explains that he deliberately wove the book’s structure to mirror the meandering flow of the Brisbane River.  Attention to details like this redeems this heavy read.

Although I would never read this book for pleasure, I appreciate the insight it gave me.  I would have liked to learn more about my city’s cultural history, rather than just its town planning.  Unfortunately, the topics covered in this memoir will interest only a narrow, local readership.


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