The Mind of A Thief (Patti Miller, UQP)
Patti Miller is a well-known author with one novel and four nonfiction books—including the popular guides for life writing, Writing Your Life and The Memoir Book—to her name. The Mind of a Thief is a memoir that focuses on Miller’s childhood and ongoing relationship with the town of Wellington in NSW where Miller grew up and which she longed to leave. Wellington is Wiradjuri country and, as Miller delves into the conflict of a Native Title claim on the area, her personal understanding of the town, her family, her childhood and her adult desire to belong are revealed. In retelling her conversations and chronicling her search for certainty, The Mind of a Thief becomes a moving work, especially in the sections involving Miller’s aging mother. Interestingly, Miller remains a central figure at all times. A standard technique in memoir, sure, but perhaps not as appropriate in this particular book, which attempts to intertwine black and white histories, as certain characters and relationships are left unexplored. Despite this, it may well serve as a fresh example of new writing around shared and often contested narratives.
Pip Newling has awarded The Mind of a Thief three stars out of five. Pip is a writer and bookseller at Shearer’s Bookshop in Leichhardt