Genres and media of life writing
Dr Heather Neilson, one of the world’s foremost experts on the life and work of Gore Vidal, has turned her attention to Vidal’s biographer and friend, Jay Parini.
A writer and educator, Parini turns 70 in 2018. Neilson recently sat in on what was likely his final class at Middlebury College, where he has been a Professor of English and Creative Writing.
“Parini has produced many historical novels,” Neilson says. “But poetry he values more than anything else. He is also a burgeoning screenplay writer. This is where my current research is focused, although the bigger aim is to write a book on Parini's whole body of writing.”
Parini wrote the film The Last Station, a bestselling book called Promised Land: Thirteen Books that Changed America, and biographies of Robert Frost, John Steinbeck and Jesus Christ!
Neilson wrote the book Political Animal: Gore Vidal on Power, as well as numerous book chapters and journal articles. She has presented many conference papers and has been approached regularly to speak on ABC radio about her work and its related topics. She has also had many pieces of writing published in Fairfax publications.
Neilson is an ex-president of the Australian and New Zealand American Studies Association, has been the Australasian representative on the International Committee of the (US-based) American Studies Association, was a co-editor of the Australasian Journal of American Studies (AJAS) and is now the Literary Reviews editor of AJAS.