Home : Literature : Review excerpts of Clearys' book, Independent
...an always entertaining narrative ...Whether bewailing
the backsliding of the ALP, or chastising the sins of British upper-class
silvertails in Ireland and Australia, or recording the lost lifestyle
of 1960s suburbia and VFA football, or defending the freedom of
women from brutalising male chauvinism, Cleary proves himself a
gifted wordsmith. ...This champion of ordinary people ... is also
a master raconteur .... It would be good to see Cleary elected to
the Senate although he needs to understand that diverse views are
needed to bring about the just society.
Nigel Jackson in the Melbourne Herald Sun (27/6/98).
For a politician, Cleary's writing is refreshingly
free of cant or pretence. There are flashes of humour and deft turns
of phrase. He has the skills of the engaging yarn-spinner and a
feel for character that makes up for a lack of coherence. A good
portion of the book is not about his political career at all. In
sometimes confusing fashion, it rambles in and out of Irish history,
working class life in suburban Melbourne, football and left-wing
politics. There is a moving section about the death of his sister
at the hands of a former partner, whose conviction for manslaughter
rather than murder outrages the Cleary family and prompts a plea
for such cases of domestic-related violence to be taken more seriously.
Mike Steketee in The Australian (30/5/98).
Piers Akerman (Sunday Herald Sun 28/6/98), that bastion of progressive
thought described this chapter as 'riveting'. There was nothing
else about the book that he liked....
is when he writes about the killing of his younger sister that
Cleary is at his most passionate and persuasive, and it is here
that we most clearly see the social rage that fuels his political
agenda . In 1987, Vicki Cleary was stalked and brutally stabbed
to death by a former boyfriend. Cleary says in the book that leaving
a man with a 20-year history of violence, according to the presiding
judge, constituted provocation. In the eyes of the law, Cleary
says, Vicki Cleary got what she was asking for. The man who lay
in wait with a carving knife got less than four years in jail.
. It was not just the cowardice of the man who killed his sister
that disgusts Cleary, but the way a patriarchal legal system excuses
such behaviour .
Author of crime fiction, Shane Maloney, The Age Newspaper (6/6/98)
I would go as far as to say it (Cleary Independent)
is in the top ten best books that I have read on any subject. Brilliantly
written, the text fairly leaps out of the pages at the reader, and
is an engrossing political tract...Cleary tells his family history,
linked closely with the Irish problems of blight and oppression
, in an imaginative and sophisticated way which would make the average
Ross Peacock, editor of "The Yorker", the Current Awareness Bulletin
of the Melbourne Cricket Club Library.
I hate to sound overly cliched but this is genuinely one
of those "make you laugh, make you cry" deals in which the life
of one man spans a huge cross-section of Australian lives . Phil
Cleary is an Australian icon, and if you want to read a non-boring
autobiography about a very non-boring man I suggest you take a
look at Cleary Independent and learn a little about yourself along
the way .
Claire Murphy, Adelaide University law magazine, (31/8/98)
In a television interview, veteran host Bert Newton had me blushing
when he said he "loved the book".
Drop me a line with your likes and dislikes if you have read it.