Book Jacket

 

rank  Editors Pick
word count 11249
date submitted 30.09.2010
date updated 26.11.2013
genres: Non-fiction, Biography, Harper True...
classification: moderate
complete

MASTER ACT: a memoir

David Price

To be born into love is the greatest gift. But what happens to love when events turn a boy's world upside down?

 

This is the story of a little boy who had everything, and lost it.

In fact, he didn't lose it - it was ripped from him. One day he was the apple of everyone's eye, the next he was burdened with a terrible secret. And none of it was his fault, but the boy was too young to know that at the time. He was shocked into pretending that everything was normal when the reverse was true: his whole world had been turned upside down.

Yet the boy's act was so masterful, no-one realized that anything was wrong.


"A hugely impressive piece of writing" James Lark 'More Tea, Jesus?'

"Beautifully written, heartbreaking, yet funny. The language and flow is perfection." Elspeth McGregor 'Paragon'

"A gem" Andrew Stevens 'The Poet'





 
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tags

1950's, 1960's, australia, catholic school, childhood, country town, creeks, damage, dark, dignity, emotional, funny, gay, happy, healing, heroic, ins...

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262 comments

 

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Cathy Hardy wrote 501 days ago

Goodness what a brave and honest account. And what a brave little boy to carry on so well admid such ghastly circumstances. Six stars, very beautifully written.

Cathy

FrancesK wrote 812 days ago

David - you speak for me, and for so many. Your wonderfully calibrated, restrained, poignant memoir describes so exactly how it is that a small child can fall into the trap of becoming habitually, unwillingly abused, The dual existence, the externally happy and normal childhood running parallel to that repeated dark nightmare is brilliantly described here. And the impossibility of explaining to parents or other family - how can a small child find the words to put right a terrible wrong in which his own guilt makes him a party? I read this at a gallop. It must be published, it should be, for it is fine writing, finely detailed, with that overpowering sense of a world about to tip out of balance, which you capture from the very first page. If you have time, please read my story CALLIE CHOOSES in the READ WITH MOTHER collection - another attempt to make an unpleasant reality into a shaped and crafted fiction. This gets 6 stars from me, for the sheer emotional power and passion of it, let alone the quality of the writing. Frances.

James Lark wrote 620 days ago

David,

This is a hugely impressive piece of writing - engaging and extremely readable, you paint a vivid picture of the past which manages to be upbeat in spite of the really difficult subject matter - which you handle with dignity and clarity. On my shelf and I wish you ever success with this work.

Very best wishes,

James

Kirrily Whatman wrote 600 days ago

Knowing this would be a story on my WL I had to devote undistracted time to, I began today. I am almost finished (and I'm usually a painfully slow, somewhat disinterested reader). This book was mesmerising from the opening sentences. In many places, I read with my head in my hands… What an honour to read such a frank account. My mother heart just wanted to protect that little boy.

I had a sense of dread as your description of the members of your family built in the first chapters. Word by word, I enjoyed them all the more…. Literally laughed out loud at the flurry of activity before the arrival of the cleaning lady on a Friday. By the time I read about your Dad polishing everyone's shoes before going to work each day, I was quite worried, frankly. And at the closing of chapter 1, I didn't want your "pure happiness" to end. I knew something was going to happen. And I was intrigued as to what (not wanting to read your previous comments in case of spoilers). The way you have written this first chapter compels me to read. Even though I don't want that dear little boy to have happen to him what I can sense is about to happen to shatter it all.

And then it really begins. My goodness, you are one heck of a writer, showing amazing restraint and such measured descriptions of scenes and feelings, yet not holding back at all.

Such a powerful story. My deepest admiration to you for getting it down so succinctly, so beautifully depicted especially in the opening chapters. You have done extremely well setting it up.

This is a truly gripping read. My heart goes out to you. Best of luck with this incredible memoir, it deserves to go all the way up to the ED and you're so close!

Kirrily
(Into The Bliss: Having & Holding Ellanor

AndrewStevens wrote 874 days ago

This really is a gem, David. Beautifully written. Sad, funny, uplifting but, above all, real. Not the type of book I'd normally read for all sorts of reasons but the quality of the writing and the integrity of the narration is plain to see. This really is a wonderful piece of work which deserves every success. Thanks and best of luck. A

Seringapatam wrote 492 days ago

I agree with the first part of Harper Critique in that it is a moving account. I thought it very gripping and brave in parts. Well done and a very good job.
Sean

Bruce Vaughan wrote 498 days ago

Congratulations. I read the entire book in one session. You have great courage. Great read.
Bruce

Cathy Hardy wrote 501 days ago

Goodness what a brave and honest account. And what a brave little boy to carry on so well admid such ghastly circumstances. Six stars, very beautifully written.

Cathy

elizabeth1985 wrote 520 days ago

:) nice it is :)

Casimir Greenfield wrote 524 days ago

David - a thoughtful and constructive review of your touching story. The story you have to tell deserves the further work to make it a publishable work.

I can agree with HC that an autobiography needs to have just the right balance. I think you have all the ingredients here and I hope you don't read the review as a negative. There is much to learn, I feel, and once the dust has settled, I'm sure you'll be tackling the book again.

My own review (despite months of re-writing) highlighted the short-comings I had in my work and I am now addressing those points. It's hard work though, but will ultimately be worth it.

Good luck with it all.

Cas

carol jefferies wrote 544 days ago

Your story definitely deserves publication. It is the best read I have so far read on this website by far. I have read the first eight chapters and was blown away by it.

The description of its various characters are simply wonderful, as is the depiction of the loving, caring family described in your early years leading up to the awful acts of regular sexual abuse by a relative. I am sure, and I do hope, that the love of your family helped in limiting to some extent the emotional trauma which you suffered as a result.

I never knew that such abuse could affect physical development in that way.

I am sure that the way you have courageously written about such a sensitive matter will help others who have experienced such exploitation in their childhood.

Brilliant work,

Carol

made wrote 551 days ago

Hey I really like this is brilliant

Nell Peters wrote 559 days ago

Well done, David - I see you made it in my absence! Good luck. Anne.

Tom Bye wrote 564 days ago

Well done David -
I do hope that further success awaits and that your very good book is published-
Having read quite a bit of your book , have to say that it was one of the better biography that i have read to date-
good luck
tom bye
from hugs to kisses'

Tom Bye wrote 564 days ago

Well done and congratulations, glad to see that your brilliant literary book as reached
the top, really hope the it will be published now.
Having read quite of good bit of it , I can say with hands of heart , that it is one of the better biography i have read to date, it deserved my six stars-
good luck-
tom bye
From hugs to Kisses'

terri17055 wrote 568 days ago

Great book!! I can see why you climbed the chart with this one.

Terri L. Doutrich

Alegria101 wrote 568 days ago

A moving story with a lot of courage and inspiration embedded in it. You probably won't need my vote, David, but i just wanted to let you know you are admired for surviving such a difficult childhood with grace and dignity. Keeping my fingers crossed and hoping HC will see it as i did, a good story worthy of publication.
God bless.
Six stars and on my shelf.
Adria

Laurence Howard wrote 568 days ago

Your eloquent, detailed and brave account of homosexual abuse will help many who have suffered and inform and enlighten many more who are fortunate enough not to have experienced such utter oblitoration of innocence. That it was someone you knew does dot negate the shame and guilt that you carried and laerned to live with. I wish you all the success in the world. I hope your autobiography will be read by millions.
Backed. Laurence Howard., The Cross of Goa.

Odette67 wrote 569 days ago

Hi what a touching and powerful memoir you have written.

It flows beautifully and engages the reader instantly. The shocking part is revealed with great dignity and emotional. I enjoyed every single word.. thank you for sharing this wonderful book. Highly starred

kate off the rails

Neil Peters wrote 569 days ago

David,
You have given everyone else a masterclass in writing, fantastic read, so well written, I can but wish you well with the book,
Regards Neil

karen 19 wrote 572 days ago

David,
This book is excellent. Everyone can learn from David's story. As grown man and a gentle soul, David tell's his life story in a way that makes you realise that this could be anyone's child, anywhere, and even in the 'best' of families, horrors can occur which shape a persons outlook and affect them in negative ways, sometimes for the rest of their lives. An interesting life story which has you turning the pages without the author portraying any hint of self pity. 6 stars

Note: in reply to Shirley Grace's earlier comment, you may have done the coursework and the degree in psychology or whatever it is you've studied along the way of working with abused children, but you don't know what you're talking about love. Many, many abused children keep it secret from everyone around them, for whatever reason's and parent's/teachers/friends/psychologists etc. don't have a clue what's going on. Just so you know, that's all!

ShirleyGrace wrote 573 days ago

Hindsight..innocent children...Abuse...The writing itself is quite good but I have a problem getting my head around the fact that no one suspected this was going on. I only read the first few chapters but still.. I personally can't see where there is any relief in finding out others were victims as well.(Former comment) Someone along the way had to have known something and I did feel anger at your father throwing you to the wolves so to speak. Some of the family HAD to have known. I just can't buy it. I know from working with abused children that they sometimes feel many emotions such as guilt (one of many) and shame and fear and some parents just don't care or are abusing the children themselves. There is also usually physical damage. Maybe this work was a purge or a cathartic. When a child is abused like that their entire life is affected. Since I only read the first chapters, perhaps this is not your main purpose in sharing. I had read your work before and gave you high stars.
Shirley Grace
The Devil's Stepchild
Realclub review

Sara Stinson wrote 573 days ago

Master Act is a beautifully written and true story of a person. He has written the book maybe to help others or to simply heal himself. Whatever the reason, he has written with style. To downgrade or hinder his work is to downgrade him. Any person who has poured out their life on paper, I find it hard to do anything but uplift.

If you have constructive and helpful responses, David is sure to be grateful. Just as the rest of us are. Sometimes the game needs to stop.
Sara Stinson
Finger Bones

Johnfrank00 wrote 578 days ago

GLBT Reading Group Review

I started to read your book over the weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it. The writing is exceptional and the story very engaging, leading the reader along at just the right pace. This is an honest, heartbreaking story with just the right amount of humor.

I highly recommend this to everyone. Master Act is on my shelf and lots of stars.

David - Added this to our reading group forum site as well.

Kathie Bondar wrote 579 days ago

Hello David
A touching, honest recollection of a childhood almost lost. I love the simple, flowing style of writing.
Kathie b

chvolkoff wrote 580 days ago

I remember reading this a while ago, and being plunged into sadness by the description of the strange relationships that can exist between troubled adults and children. However, David turns his heartbreaking journey into a piece of art, well written, without being complacent nor voyeuristic. This is an important book, for its honesty, which makes it a universal story.

Nell Peters wrote 580 days ago

Both a reflective and reflexive piece - well written, without falling into the trap of exhausting the reader with dry facts and poor-me scenarios, like many autobiographical works. Chapter one is atmospheric, with good descriptions of 1950's culture, your family dynamic and life in the town where you were raised - all doused with a well-judged degree of humour. Chapter two starts to build upon the tensions entering your young life and it is difficult not to keep reading. I did. Good luck with this. Anne.

boskolon wrote 585 days ago

Hello David,
You have been around here for two years (almost) and have received tons of comments. There is little of any significance that I cold add but I have one suggestion about the opening lines.
Every workshop I attended and manual I consulted emphasized the importance of "the hook" or the opening that will grab the reader and make him/her want to red the rest of the book. This is particularly important with memoirs. They have a tendency to start with the first day ("I was born ...") and then plod along ("My first memory ...") till the end.
So my suggestion is to start with some dramatic event at the very beginning and then continue with the life story. I have done that with a "Dream" at the beginning of my story, before starting with the life -story. The comments on you story that I had scanned all praised your writing skills and I concur.
Good luck at the end of the month. Let us know if H-C write a review.
Cheers - bosko

Elaine Chaika wrote 587 days ago

Wonderful writing! Definitely going on my wait list. Both people and scenes are vividly rendered. 5 stars. I'm leaving room will be 6, so I have to leave room for higher ratings if the next chapters. This opening shows real talent, but I hesitate to judge on the basis of one chapter. So far, it's definitely a 6, and I can't wait to read more

Elaine Chaika

cooee wrote 588 days ago

Good luck with it!

Casimir Greenfield wrote 591 days ago

This truly is a remarkable piece of work. I have commented before. I have now read all that David has published on site. An astounding story written with humour and skill. It will remain on my shelf for the entire month.

Flying Leathernecks wrote 591 days ago

A very touching memoir, and well-written too. Putting this on my shelf with six stars and hoping it helps you reach the desk.

Sara Stinson wrote 593 days ago

David,
You have a written and painted a vivid picture of your childhood. A memoir of abuse. Even though you went through such a heartbreaking time, you found humor when writing. You handled each incident and memory with so much description, I was feeling your emotions. Your brave handling such a personal topic. I highly star you! I hope September, your anniversary, is your month to shine!
Sara Stinson
Finger Bones

Annette Russell wrote 594 days ago

Master Act: a memoir - so bravely and beautifully written, David, I've spent the entire morning and most of this afternoon reading all 17 uploaded chapters in one sitting - for which I surely owe you some shelf-time!

You have a brilliant opening chapter, so descriptive and idyllic, immersing the reader in your family life. My sense of foreboding grew as I read Chapter 2, and the way you handle the shocking revelation of Chapter 3 is very skillful, to say the least! Ending Chapter 3 on that limerick - funny if read out of context, sinister when read where you've placed it - really shows your ability as a writer. I especially enjoyed Chapters 15 and 16 - your time in the Philippines, and seeing you being able to emotionally heal yourself in Chapter 17 came as a relief. May I ask what the Australian bush flower remedy is called?

Thank you for sharing your story. Bravely and elegantly written, it truly is a master act.

Backed with best wishes,

Annette

Charlotte12 wrote 595 days ago

I'm glad I took the time to look at your book. I like the tone and the elements of humor in chapter one. I admit I found the series of long paragraphs a little challenging, but over all, I enjoyed what I read. High stars and a backing when I can shuffle my shelf. :)

Best!
Dyane-Charlotte12
The Purple Morrow

Geddy25 wrote 595 days ago

I like reading these kinds of books that reminisce on yesteryear. I think children / teenagers should read them to see that there was life before computers and x-boxes.
You have painted a wonderful picture of life as a child in those days - even though I've never been to Australia and was born in 1970! Your text flows with ease and I found it to be faultless (I certainly didn't notice any errors).
I only read the first few chapters, but I'm really impressed with what I've seen.
Great stuff!
Mike.
(Way Back To Devil's Mountain)

LianneLB wrote 598 days ago

This is wonderfully written book, and even laced with humour in places, despite the subject. The way you paint a picture of your happy life is fantastic - it gives the reader a heartbreaking insight into the contrast when Vernon starts sexual abusing him. It's a shame he was never brought to justice, and I sadly could see it coming that there were other children being abused. You're very brave to write this story, and it's an importnat story to be told. You write beautifully and really make the characters come alive, I can feel their emotions, especially the MC. Good luck getting to the desk

Lianne
Big Girl Lost

Jane Mauret wrote 598 days ago

Hello, David
I have now read the whole book and am struck by the resilience of children. How children, in the most dire of circumstances still strive for normalcy, even protect their their parents, in trying to be "like all the other kids." I can understand it must have been a bizarre kind of relief to learn later in life how many children Vernon targetted. I do find myself wondering though if any adults really did not know that something was going on. Your memoir still reflects your childhood resilience in the sense that you have told your story so matter-of-factly; you want the reader to feel that "everything is alright." I can empathise with that desire. You have also painted lovely images of life in the 50s and 60s, many of which are familiar to me. I think my father was similar to yours; I remember having a non-plumbed in toilet; eating roast chicken at Christmas; and being taught by 'crazed' nuns. Despite things that went wrong for me, I value things that I did learn as a child from grandparents, aunts and uncles. I can find no quibble with your writing as you have achieved a finely-honed balance between extremes of memories. I hope, in the future perhaps, that you will tell us about your latter acting life. All the best.
Jane Mauret
UGLY IN PARADISE

patio wrote 598 days ago

This is a heart throbbing story.

Well done and thank you for sharing
high stars

Kirrily Whatman wrote 600 days ago

Knowing this would be a story on my WL I had to devote undistracted time to, I began today. I am almost finished (and I'm usually a painfully slow, somewhat disinterested reader). This book was mesmerising from the opening sentences. In many places, I read with my head in my hands… What an honour to read such a frank account. My mother heart just wanted to protect that little boy.

I had a sense of dread as your description of the members of your family built in the first chapters. Word by word, I enjoyed them all the more…. Literally laughed out loud at the flurry of activity before the arrival of the cleaning lady on a Friday. By the time I read about your Dad polishing everyone's shoes before going to work each day, I was quite worried, frankly. And at the closing of chapter 1, I didn't want your "pure happiness" to end. I knew something was going to happen. And I was intrigued as to what (not wanting to read your previous comments in case of spoilers). The way you have written this first chapter compels me to read. Even though I don't want that dear little boy to have happen to him what I can sense is about to happen to shatter it all.

And then it really begins. My goodness, you are one heck of a writer, showing amazing restraint and such measured descriptions of scenes and feelings, yet not holding back at all.

Such a powerful story. My deepest admiration to you for getting it down so succinctly, so beautifully depicted especially in the opening chapters. You have done extremely well setting it up.

This is a truly gripping read. My heart goes out to you. Best of luck with this incredible memoir, it deserves to go all the way up to the ED and you're so close!

Kirrily
(Into The Bliss: Having & Holding Ellanor

julia rush wrote 600 days ago

Dear David:

Engaging writing and interesting life. I probably need to read further to read about the change that ripped you from your comfort. By the first chapter writing alone, I am shelving and starring. Please read a story from my book My Rhapsody and comment. Thanks. good luck!

Simone Marie
My Rhapsody

Natalie1 wrote 606 days ago

A heartbreaking tale, David. There is little else in this world worse than the abuse of a child - abuse that leads to vile manipulation into secrecy by the abuser. The child always feels guilty, even sorry for his abuser at times, and this in itself is devastating to read. I have read several chapters into your work and feel glad that you were strong enough to get this terrible tale onto paper. I hope it proves cathartic for you. No more secrets. It's out there now and you should feel clean and proud of that achievement - born again! I wish you every success with this. I think sometimes we should be confronted with such truths as, after all, we share the same world with all the same horrors and wonders. High Stars and a backing as soon as I have space. Well done, David. And my very best wishes to you. Natalie (The Diary of John Crow)

Natalie1 wrote 606 days ago

Hi David, I would love to read your book and have tried consistently today to read yours and others on authonomy but as usual, the error message shows on every chapter. It's a great shame and I have previously contacted authonomy regarding this very persistent problem on this site but have not received any reply. Hopefully someone can tell me why it is frequently so difficult to read anything on here. I will try again later today or later in the week - but I AM trying :-) Natalie (The Diary of John Crow)

James Lark wrote 620 days ago

David,

This is a hugely impressive piece of writing - engaging and extremely readable, you paint a vivid picture of the past which manages to be upbeat in spite of the really difficult subject matter - which you handle with dignity and clarity. On my shelf and I wish you ever success with this work.

Very best wishes,

James

R. Dango wrote 620 days ago

What has started out as a nostalgic and sentimental account of one boy’s happy childhood takes an unexpected turn into a dark path. The sunny life with popular and caring parents continues while the little boy takes painful effort of ‘acting’ and concealing what is destroying his childhood. Surprisingly calmly written, maintaining the beauty and the warmth of the period, this is an acutely truthful memoir of one man’s life, which must be read widely. I have read through chapter 6 for now, and I have no doubt that I will read until the end.

nightskyfantasy wrote 620 days ago

I have to admit, I don't read many memoirs - in fact, I've read less than a handful and most of them on this website - so I didn't know quite what to expect. You did an amazing job with description. I ended up reading through chapter three, very unusual for me. You fill every sentence with emotion, setting, description - excellent writing.

It's very hard to come by a story on sexual abuse, and even more so when the victim is a boy. It's a very private, tough topic to deal with, and I'm glad you had the courage to write it. Perhaps this way, others will see it and will take courage too. (I do not know if this has been published yet, but if it isn't, I don't see why not.)

Beautifully written, especially for the topic. I'm glad you messaged me to read it - it will definitely be backed.

Peace and snowflakes,
Nightskyfantasy

Searcher wrote 623 days ago

Hi David, Thank you for courageously sharing a story that will undoubtedly help many. Confusion, shame and guilt too often keeps childhood sexual abuse hidden. Unfortunately children who may suffer a similar fate will not have the chance to read your story until later in life. Maybe it will help parents to be more alert. I believe it will definitely open doors and help others not feel so alone! ******6 Stars

Jane

arne wrote 624 days ago

Wow, chapter one was amazing. I love how you write descriptions. This is excellent work. Breakfast at your house sounded bland, but dinner sounded amazing. I am definitely backing this book.
Arne Lash
Pimps, Beggars, and Bones

John Life wrote 626 days ago

HI David,
I am new to this site and came across your book for a glance and while i found parts sad it is also humourous and i wand to come back and read more.
kindest regards
john life
http://authonomy.com/books/46080/christiania-you-won-my-heart

John Life wrote 626 days ago

great fast book.
Is it published by a big player?
If not why not...
i will be back to read more...
kindest regards
john life
http://authonomy.com/books/46080/christiania-you-won-my-heart/

Harlem Nights wrote 628 days ago

I don't normally like memoirs, but this one touched my heart. Best wishes, Madge

CrazyChick wrote 629 days ago

Master Act is masterful. You carefully craft the story with beautiful descriptions not only of characters and places but of feelings and emotions too. I shall continue to read but will definitely find room for this on my shelf. If I had any comment, which is not a reflection on the writing but the genre, I would say it would be more marketable written in the third person rather than a memoir, merely because memoirs are not generally popular and you may find it harder to find a publisher for a piece of work that deserves to be in the bookstores.

Katie Ridley wrote 630 days ago

David, this is really well written, truly. It's easy to read, interesting, endearing and simple. It makes me want to go back to Australia and I've only read the first chapter so far. I can't really offer any tips on what needs improved because I can't find anything that does. I will continue to read this and will rate highly and back. Good luck and well done.
Katie Ridley,'The Last Message'. x

A G Chaudhuri wrote 630 days ago

Dear David,
Thank you for the invitation to read A MASTER ACT. It’s a master act indeed. Beautifully written, it’s a very brave and honest description of your early life. Not my usual read; I’d nonetheless applaud you for the elegance and integrity with which you’ve chosen to tell your story. Not many can do that. Apart from hopefully taking the load off your shoulders, revelations of such grim nature also carry a cautionary message for parents and children, and thus serve a very important social function.
Best of luck with this book.
Regards,
AGC


Su Dan wrote 632 days ago

good idea, and setting. you use a clear writing style, that works very well indeed...
backed...
read SEASONS...