“There are things you learn in life which alter your perspective entirely.” Lara Pawson’s extremely candid memoir provides a window into a complex and brutally honest woman whose perspective is irrevocably altered by the horror and excitement of war reporting.
At the structural centre of This is the Place to Be is the problem of perception and memory. “As I write, I wonder, are you, as your read, filling in the words that your brain thinks are already here?” There is urgency in Pawson’s need to set down and define a past framed by her awareness of the unreliability and fragility of memory, knowing of course that telling the story shapes not only the memory but perception as well.
This isn’t a war memoir. It isn’t even about war reporting, though Pawson does give voice to the experience of war at its most intimate level – the individual. It is also an honest and heartfelt exploration of gender and class. Pawson writes, “Even with my mouth shut, you can see the privilege. It’s etched into me.” What emerges most of all, behind the humour, anger and uncertainty, is a memoir that is full of love and life.