Seasons Greeting 2016

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Yes, we’ll miss the Obamas. But it raises the question: Can you be a politician without an attractive family?

This is proving to be a more difficult opening sentence than I imagined on first putting finger to keyboard – we are not all Christians, I certainly am not, and possibly we don’t all have families, I do but even the immediate members are a bit spread out this year. So … I hope those of you who gather with family and friends on Sunday, or who will gather shortly thereafter, have a pleasant time and receive lots of exciting pressies, and I wish you all a prosperous New Year.

As I’ve already indicated (here), I don’t read widely enough among new releases to opine on the Best Book of 2016 but probably the best I read was Sylvia Martin’s biography of Aileen Palmer, Ink in Her Veins (review). Even amongst all your reviews I did not see any fiction to rival Patric’s Black Rock White City or Woods’ The Natural Way of Things from the previous year, though many of you found more to like than I did in Emily Maguire’s An Isolated Incident (my reviews here, here and here). Next year I am looking forward to Jane Rawson’s From the Wreck which will be out in March, she is an amazing, quirky, talent.

Once again I have had a wonderful blog-following year. I know you’ve all been waiting, so for Best Blog Post for 2016 (as read by wadholloway), the winner is:

The Resident Judge of Port Phillip for the series This Week in the Port Phillip District 1841 (here) which I have been following rapt all year.

Somewhat unfairly Lisa at ANZLitLovers has to make do with first runner up for her post Yevgeny Onegin, by Alexander Pushkin, translated by Anthony Briggs, February 20, 2016 (here), an excellent exposition on both the text and the problems of translation.

Thankyou also, Lisa, for Indigenous Writers’ Week (here) and Christina Stead Week (here), both of which I enjoyed reading and participating in.

My other runner up is Michelle at Adventures in Biography for Georgette Heyer and Genre, 17 Oct 2016 (here).  “Why did no-one tell me what I was missing?” I’m sure we did but maybe someone wasn’t listening. Anyway, welcome to the club!

My favourite among my own posts for the year is The Young Cosima, Henry Handel Richardson, 11 Nov 2016 (here), partly because of the considerable research it required for me put the story into its correct historical context within ‘classical’ music, not an area with which I am familiar. For some reason I do not understand at all the one post of mine that is looked at week after week is The Rainbow-Bird, Vance Palmer (here) – an odd choice you would think to be included in a literature syllabus in 2016.

As always I tried following some new blogs. Two in particular I have found interesting. They are The Logical Place which will flood you with pieces on logic, philosophy and science, and less to my taste, anti-political correctness; and Grab the Lapels where Melanie, a Literature professor in a US mid-west university, concentrates on women writers from independent presses.

My favourite on-line writer remains Helen Razer, our last remaining marxist-feminist, at Daily Review and Crikey. As an example here is How Hillary Clinton uses feminism to advance her neoliberal, hawkish agenda, Daily Review, 13 June 2016.

This year I gave up reading the daily newspaper after half a century when if I was broke, and I often was, I’d buy the newspaper before I bought food. Breaking point was the introduction of Andrew Bolt as a correspondent in my local paper the West Australian, though I miss Shane Wright on economics. I subscribe to Crikey and the Age online, but the Age like the ABC has had an unsympathetic board for too long and next year I think I’ll give the Age money to the Guardian.

The books I bought my family for xmas represent my tastes more than theirs probably, though I do try and compromise. If there’s less science fiction than usual it’s because two of my kids needed presents other than books.

Clementine Ford, Fight Like a Girl (2016)

Elise McCune, Castle of Dreams (2016)

S Pirotta & B Barrager, Ballet Stories for Young Children (2016)

Nik Cohn, Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom (1969)

Ursula Le Guin, The Word for World is Forest (1976)

Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007)

V Parker, Myths & Legends (2006)

J Berry & L McNeilly, Map Art (2014)

 

For review next year I have already sitting on my shelves –

Tom Griffiths, The Art of Time Travel (2016)

Larissa Behrendt, Finding Eliza (2016)

Kate Chopin, The Awakening (1899)

Bernice Barry, Georgiana Molloy: The mind that shines (2015)

Brain Dibble, Doing Life: A biography of Elizabeth Jolley (2008)

Catherine Helen Spence, Mr Hogarth’s Will (1865)

– and many more besides. Enjoy the break! I might be working now but I’m off to Europe for a month in April.

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Daphne (2001-2016) x-Mrs Legend’s whippet cross (we think!)
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20 thoughts on “Seasons Greeting 2016

  1. You’ve spoiled Christmas for your children! They’ll know what present they’re getting now. Thanks for the interesting wrap-up; among other things I didn’t know Jane’s new book was out in March and I shall now look forward to it also. Happy Christmas to you too.

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    • Two of the kids have their presents already (one is spending Christmas day in Shanghai and didn’t have a suitable jacket, and when I phoned him this morning, hadn’t started packing). The third, who is included in the list above, will probably also get an Elena Ferrante, so let’s hope she doesn’t read all the way down to here. Hope young Thomas get’s lots of books (and you use some of your time off to knock off some light fiction).

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  2. Well Bill, you say you don’t read much contemporary fiction and I hope it stays that way – I enjoy your reviews of books that aren’t on my radar!

    I tend to agree with you about The Natural Way of Things – an incredible book that is difficult to match. I read some good books by Aus women writers this year (I think my favourite was Shirley Barrett’s Rush Oh! but none that have generated the discussion that Wood’s did/still does).

    The mention of Georgette Heyer has served as a nice prompt – haven’t read any Heyer for DECADES (and even then, it wasn’t much) and I really revisit. I noticed a biography of her in my library’s meagre list of audiobooks (actually, it’s not that meagre, it’s just that there’s little in the ‘literature’ category – most are detective novels, sports biographies and mainstream bestsellers – not stuff that appeals to me).

    Safe Christmas and holiday!

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  3. I read Georgette Heyer when my brain needs a rest. Watched Love Actually for the first time this week and found it very Georgette Heyerish, ie lot’s of love interest, ridiculous plotlines and LOL funny. My local library had a ‘classics’ audiobook section for a while, but most of them were abridged, even the Jane Austen. A Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was probably the best.
    Hope you enjoy the break and get in a few good swims, I am and enjoying the sunshine after training all through winter.

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    • I’m with you, I don’t read abridged books. My 2017 reading challenge is War & Peace – never read it but it’s on the reading bucket-list. I have found an app that delivers approx. 10 minute section to read each day. I’ll start out with that and then see if I feel like picking up the whole doorstop!

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      • We’re expecting a very long review! I put off reading W&P for years because of its bad rep, but it’s actually pretty easy going – sort of like Jane Austen with battle scenes.

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  4. Well, *chuckle* thank you, I am honoured to be runner-up to Janine because she has been amazing the way she’s kept those posts up, week in, week out! (One day, some PhD student researching Melbourne will stumble on them and be so grateful to her!)
    I concur about Cosima, and not just because I am a devotee of HHR. My favourite bloggers are all those who go the extra mile and don’t just provide an opinion about the book but also some little extra that enlivens the review.
    Re papers: Yes, re The Guardian, I abandoned The Age some time ago because of its descent into tabloid and I don’t miss it at all. May I recommend these ‘free’ options? Inside Story (http://insidestory.org.au/, often remarkably good); the Conversation (variable, but still mostly better than anything you might pay for); the Citizen, journalism by post grad journalism students, ranges from quirky to excellent analysis (http://www.thecitizen.org.au/); and occasionally (believe it or not) Eureka Street https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/ (which can be good on social justice issues).
    (They are free, but I send them a donation every now and again because they need it).
    Enjoy the festive season, whatever form it takes:)

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    • Certainly the reviews/posts I enjoy writing the most are the ones that involve research, and I enjoy thinking them out. For example I’m tentatively planning for next Anzac day, an article on anarchism and pacifism. Meanwhile, I’ll certainly try all those links, thank you.

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  5. Seasons greetings, Bill, I’ve enjoyed discovering your blog this year and reading your thoughts on books I would not usually choose to read. That’s the best bit about blogging: having your reading horizons widened.

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    • Thankyou, I’m starting to feel the weight of keeping everyone up to date with pre-WWII Australian writing! No, I love it! And I really enjoy, on as many blogs as I can keep up with, not just the new books I am introduced to constantly, but also the analysis that comes with them, keeping them in context, and opening up contexts I had never even considered.

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  6. Great end-of-year write up Bill, which I missed in the pre-Christmas rush. I enjoy your posts for the variety you bring to the web, particularly in terms of Australian women writers.

    I too have given up reading the daily newspaper, a couple of years ago, and rely on online sources, particularly The Conversation, Inside Story, and sometimes the Guardian. I do also look, semi-regularly, at our city paper, The Canberra Times, online just to catch up with local news (and do the trivia quiz if I remember!)

    Love the look of your books coming up. I have a couple of those on my TBR too, but I can recommend The awakening which I’ve read at least twice, and will probably read again one day.

    Wishing you a very happy readerly 2017 and look forward to continuing to meet in cyberspace.

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  7. Georgette Heyer! I last read a couple of hers when I was reading my mother’s bookshelf when I was13 or 14. I read her Lord Peter Wimsey detective stories and found them an enjoyable break from Agatha Christie. While checking my memory with Google I found this interesting article about Georgette Heyer’s mystery novels written by Jean Bedford at Newtown Review of Books

    I also have the The Art of Time Travel by Tom Griffiths on my reading list.

    Regarding newspapers – I think a lot of us have had the same problems you have encountered. I was devestated when The Age started to go downhill several years ago. I had read it every day since I was about seven. It was such a part of my life but we really could not go on together. The online version prioritised click bait and repeated articles that I had read in other newspapers several days before. It also coincided with the increasing toxicity and banality of politics. It was time to move on to better things.

    I read ABC News online, The Guardian, BBC, The Conversation and some other current affairs publications. But I also go on periodic ‘news diets’ when I feel that all the news is doing is bringing us down. There is worthwhile stuff happening out there like this blogging world we are part of. I just make sure I follow people who are not like me on social media and hang out with people from diverse backgrounds to try to ward off the problems of existing in an echo chamber of my views on life.

    Onward and upward – all the best for your blog next year Bill!

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  8. Thankyou Yvonne. Georgette Heyer is my not so secret vice, especially the Regency romances, just don’t tell anyone in the trucking industry or I may have to find a new career.
    As for poor old Fairfax, they stumble from missed opportunity to missed opportunity steadily getting blander. Already they’re just a real estate advertising website that has a legacy division doing something in newspapers. What I really wonder is what our once ‘liberal’ world will look like in another 10 years. The Guardian has its hand out for donations (as do Firefox and Wikipedia), the Age and Radio National are shadows of their former greatness, the Goths (or is it the Huns) have taken Rome/ Washington.
    I thank heavens (and MST) that I was introduced to the blogosphere.

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