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Here, the author of The Female Eunuch affectingly recounts her keen-eyed, tormented pursuit of the truth about her late father. ""It was the war he left me for--I knew that much,"" Greet writes. He was a dapper Melbourne newspaper advertising man, English, born in South Africa, raised in Tasmania. Beyond that, Peg Greer told his family almost nothing To lift his ""curtain of silence,"" Greet begins her ruthless and solitary search, soon to discover that the ""facts,"" like her own memories, don't pan out: Peg Greer's ""whole life was a lie."" For two years she travels--to libraries, graveyards, government agencies, across Queensland (to a town ""on a life-support machine""), to Tasmania, India, and Malta. Boldly, she steers into difficult emotional terrain, to come to terms with a father who ""never once hugged"" her. Passionate, opinionated, and relishing shock, Greet keeps up the suspense and brings her dissonant viewpoints--as feminist, literary scholar, expatriate, and daughter--to the writing. What gives this obsessive and naked quest its resonance is the way Greet connects it to the history, landscape, and minor characters that she animates along the way. In stripping away patriarchal myth, she spares no one, including herself. ""I don't approve of heroism, and yet I demanded heroism of my father, imposed it on him."" Later, she asks herself whether she tracks him down out of love or out of hate. This lyrical but brutal elegy is also for Australia, its landscape scarred by ranchers, farmers, and timber companies that tried to beat it into submission. As she drives from Roma to Cunnamulla, she mourns ""an honour guard of dead animals, mostly kangaroos that lay like sleeping schoolgirls with their elegant heads pillowed on the edge of the tarmac. . ."" The troubling revelations of Greer's dogged search hand the daughter a Pyrrhic victory, but in constructing this original book, the writer captures a victory clearly her own.

Pub Date: Jan. 22nd, 1989
ISBN: 0449905616
Publisher: Knopf