AustLit logo
y separately published work icon Eating the Underworld : A Memoir in Three Voices single work   autobiography  
Issue Details: First known date: 2001... 2001 Eating the Underworld : A Memoir in Three Voices
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

This autobiography is Doris Brett's personal account of her struggle with ovarian cancer. She has used "diary style" entries, poetry and fables to recount and examine her experiences and memories.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Vintage , 2001 .
      Extent: vii, 413p.p.
      Description: port.
      ISBN: 1740510704

Works about this Work

Truth-Telling : A Passage to Survival in Doris Brett's 'Eating the Underworld. A Memoir in Three Voices' Jill Golden , 2006 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Politics and Poetics of Passage in Canadian and Australian Culture and Fiction 2006; (p. 175-187)
'Doris Brett is a poet, writer and psychotherapist whose 2001 book, "Eating the Underworld. A Memoir in Three Voices", tells three concurrent stories about survival. The author survives ovarian cancer and its return; she is the daughter of Holocaust survivors whose experiences are the background to her own childhood; and she describes herself as a survivor of childhood sibling abuse. The three stories have subterranean links which Brett uncovers in ways that raise ethical and psychological questions of great complexity. Layers of understanding about family and memory are knitted together through three different narrative strategies: poetry, journal writing and fairy tales. The result is as complex as a Fair Isle sweater. This multifaceted effort at truth-telling becomes Brett's passage to survival; through the processes of negotiating and narrating she constructs an identity that enables her to make sense of her life. Brett's first story in "Eating the Underworld" is the intimately personal one of her physical and emotional experience of ovarian cancer, and its recurrence, which covers a period of several years. Her second narrative is motivated by and is a response to the writings of her sister Lily Brett. Lily, herself a well-established poet, short story writer and essayist, has written extensively as the child of Holocaust survivors. Readers of "Eating the Underworld" have no way to adjudicate between the two sisters' versions of their mother, but in choosing to write memoir rather than fiction, Doris has implicitly entered into a 'pact' with her readers. What part can fairy tales possibly play in such 'will to truth'? Do fairy tales lie outside any autobiographical pact in Doris's memoir? If so, why has she included them and why does she give the very last words in the book to her fairy tale characters? What kind of narrative trust can include the use of fairy tales and how are readers expected to relate them to the journal and poetry sections of "Eating the Underworld"?' [Source: Flinders Academic Commons. ]
Writers Reveal Personal Inspiration Joanne Faggian , 2002 single work column
— Appears in: State Library of Victoria News , June-September no. 20 2002; (p. 10)
Sister Pacts Richard Freadman , 2002 single work review
— Appears in: Meanjin , vol. 61 no. 1 2002; (p. 186-195)

— Review of Eating the Underworld : A Memoir in Three Voices Doris Brett , 2001 single work autobiography
Memoir : Some Fact, Some Friction Jane Sullivan , 2002 single work biography column
— Appears in: The Sunday Age , 13 January 2002; (p. 10)
Women's Lives Joy W. Hooton , 2001 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , November no. 236 2001; (p. 12-13)

— Review of Eating the Underworld : A Memoir in Three Voices Doris Brett , 2001 single work autobiography ; Roundabout at Bangalow : An Intimate Chronicle Shirley Walker , 2001 single work autobiography
Voices in the Darkness Marion Halligan , 2001 single work review
— Appears in: The Age , 6 October 2001; (p. 9)

— Review of Eating the Underworld : A Memoir in Three Voices Doris Brett , 2001 single work autobiography
Blood Ties Diana Bagnall , 2001 single work review
— Appears in: The Bulletin , 16 October vol. 119 no. 6297 2001; (p. 90)

— Review of Eating the Underworld : A Memoir in Three Voices Doris Brett , 2001 single work autobiography
Hard Lessions Distilled Through the Past Cath Kenneally , 2001 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 20-21 October 2001; (p. 10-11)

— Review of Eating the Underworld : A Memoir in Three Voices Doris Brett , 2001 single work autobiography
In Short Debra Adelaide , 2001 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 3-4 November 2001; (p. 15)

— Review of Sweet Sentence Larry Buttrose , 2001 single work novel ; Eating the Underworld : A Memoir in Three Voices Doris Brett , 2001 single work autobiography
An Incomplete Story Lesley Lebkowicz , 2001 single work review
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 17 November 2001; (p. 18)

— Review of Eating the Underworld : A Memoir in Three Voices Doris Brett , 2001 single work autobiography
Truth-Telling : A Passage to Survival in Doris Brett's 'Eating the Underworld. A Memoir in Three Voices' Jill Golden , 2006 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Politics and Poetics of Passage in Canadian and Australian Culture and Fiction 2006; (p. 175-187)
'Doris Brett is a poet, writer and psychotherapist whose 2001 book, "Eating the Underworld. A Memoir in Three Voices", tells three concurrent stories about survival. The author survives ovarian cancer and its return; she is the daughter of Holocaust survivors whose experiences are the background to her own childhood; and she describes herself as a survivor of childhood sibling abuse. The three stories have subterranean links which Brett uncovers in ways that raise ethical and psychological questions of great complexity. Layers of understanding about family and memory are knitted together through three different narrative strategies: poetry, journal writing and fairy tales. The result is as complex as a Fair Isle sweater. This multifaceted effort at truth-telling becomes Brett's passage to survival; through the processes of negotiating and narrating she constructs an identity that enables her to make sense of her life. Brett's first story in "Eating the Underworld" is the intimately personal one of her physical and emotional experience of ovarian cancer, and its recurrence, which covers a period of several years. Her second narrative is motivated by and is a response to the writings of her sister Lily Brett. Lily, herself a well-established poet, short story writer and essayist, has written extensively as the child of Holocaust survivors. Readers of "Eating the Underworld" have no way to adjudicate between the two sisters' versions of their mother, but in choosing to write memoir rather than fiction, Doris has implicitly entered into a 'pact' with her readers. What part can fairy tales possibly play in such 'will to truth'? Do fairy tales lie outside any autobiographical pact in Doris's memoir? If so, why has she included them and why does she give the very last words in the book to her fairy tale characters? What kind of narrative trust can include the use of fairy tales and how are readers expected to relate them to the journal and poetry sections of "Eating the Underworld"?' [Source: Flinders Academic Commons. ]
Sisters of the Netherworld Find Family Matters Kate Legge , 2001 single work biography
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 29-30 September 2001; (p. 10)
The Conflict Between Truth and Memory Christopher Bantick , 2001 single work criticism
— Appears in: Canberra Sunday Times , 14 October 2001; (p. 53)
Memoir : Some Fact, Some Friction Jane Sullivan , 2002 single work biography column
— Appears in: The Sunday Age , 13 January 2002; (p. 10)
Writers Reveal Personal Inspiration Joanne Faggian , 2002 single work column
— Appears in: State Library of Victoria News , June-September no. 20 2002; (p. 10)
Last amended 30 Jun 2004 11:46:00
X