Between the time we are born and when we draw our last breath, there’s the possibility to experience joy, sorrow, anger — and even to transcend those emotions. The fortunate among us manage to treasure all of these experiences. The less fortunate carry them like baggage that’s sometimes too heavy to bear. Eugenie Knox’s experiences, recounted in her memoir Indelible Memories: Into the mouth of the tiger!, fall into both categories.
Knox’s book is part of a series recounting her life. Published in a font that mimics handwriting as in a diary, this title spans her early youth in Heidelberg, Germany (in the early ’50s) to her young adulthood (mid 60s’) in Australia’s Outback. Throughout, she reflects on how her siblings survived her parents’ toxic marriage with both residual terror and wonder. Her father’s alcohol-fueled abusive behavior and wandering eye triggered frightening, explosive arguments between her parents, yet individually, both parents were creative, fun-loving spirits who infused joy into her life.
Knox’s mother took part in the modern dance movement in Melbourne, and readers who enjoy seeing the ripple effects of the 1960s’ social upheaval on the arts, politics and social mores will appreciate these passages. Those curious about the “sexual revolution” in the Land Down Under also won’t be disappointed; the authors’ free-wheeling parents reveled in sexual experimentation (their children often suffered the consequences, worrying about the permanence of their family).
Knox’s recollections range from vivid memories to dim recall, giving the book an uneven quality that could have benefitted from an editor’s scalpel to prune the lesser passages. Still, when her writing gets bogged down, it’s often rescued by the elegance of the author’s line drawings, so powerfully evocative in their simplicity that they offer yet another window into her world.
Overall, Knox’s memoir is a compelling story, full of quirky characters, unusual locales and exploration of a timeline that spans one of the most remarkable and tumultuous periods in the 20th century.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.