This is a wonderful biography of the singer, songwriter and novelist Nick Cave covering the period up until his band ‘The Birthday Party’ arrive in England to play in London, so it covers his early life in Australia. I would thoroughly recommend you read it even if you are not a huge fan of Nick Cave because having read very many music biographies I have to say this is one of the best I have ever come across.

It provides a deeper understanding of Caves music and songs from not only the obvious influence of Southern Gothic on his work but also the effect of his upbringing in Wangaratta. This feels like quite a rural area and the country farmland in Victoria seems somewhat reminiscent of the American south.

The humour that underlies some of Caves work is sometimes overlooked but a deeper understanding of his youth really helps to puts it in to context. Nick Caves father was an English teacher and an intellectual who set up the adult education system in Victoria. His fathers influence helped to make Cave in to the creative and imaginative adult which he became as he learnt from him a deep love of the literature and language which underpins his work.

Of course there are myriads of other influences which have created the spirited mosaic of one Australia’s modern renaissance men and you can read about many of them in this superbly readable book.

The book is extremely thoughtful and a bright vivid interesting portrait of one of the foremost songwriters and performers of today. Mark Mordue has produced a well written, intelligent and easy to read no hold barred biography that is exceptionally enjoyable.

Reviewed by Sara Boorman

Published by Allen & Unwin; Main edition (4 Mar. 2021)
Hardback, ISBN 978-1838953690