Another year, another 70 or 80 posts. I love it, much more fun than doing a degree – and I’ve spent 30 odd years studying over these 66 – and just as stimulating, and just as much hard work. Anyway, all the best for another year. Thank you all for reading what I write, for commenting, for your posts and for all the great discussions.
I’ve illustrated this post with Sturt’s Desert Pea for Melanie at Grab The Lapels who is an American and not up on Australian flora. I said I’d send you some Melanie, sorry they’re late. The photo is from around September, four years ago. The Great Sandy Desert is north of the Tropic of Capricorn and mostly dry, as you’d expect! But prone to floods in the rainy season (summer monsoons/cyclones). I haven’t been up there this year, to my sorrow, and instead have a ‘retirement’ job tootling between Perth and the Eastern Goldfields (Kalgoorlie etc.).
As usual I’ve read far too few new books over the course of the year, just squeezing in Kim Scott’s Taboo and Heather Rose’s The Museum of Modern Love in the last couple of weeks. Both of them deserve all manner of prizes and in fact it’s about time Scott won the Booker, though I think Benang (1999) is probably still his best work, certainly his most ambitious. Jane Rawson is still my favourite underrated author and this year she released From the Wreck which I thoroughly enjoyed and I would also recommend the similar in spirit, Terra Nullius from new author Claire G Coleman.
As well as ‘real’ books I got through 150 audio books this year, only some of which I reviewed. Leaving aside Jane Austen (I probably listen to each of her novels on about a two year rotation) the best I listened to this year was Bao Ninh’s The Sorrow of War, but I would like to give an honourable mention to Kingsley Amis’ Booker Prize winning The Old Devils (1986), one of the very few books about guys my age I’ve bothered reading.
So, drum roll, we get to Best Blog Post for 2017 (as read by wadholloway), and the winner is:
Lisa Hill of ANZLitLovers for the amazing, never-ending Finegan’s Wake series which has been alternately informing and bemusing us throughout the year.
I guess I have a thing about series because my runner up is Michelle (MST) of Adventures in Biography for her step by step account of writing and getting published a biography of Elizabeth Macarthur, from when she was accepted into Hard Copy (with a finely polished first chapter) way back in April 2015 through to book launch/release in April next year.
There is another series I must mention, Jane Rawson and Annabel Smith’s What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Book. If you’re thinking about writing a book or are just interested in the process, read this lively (and informative) series.
Melanie at Grab The Lapels too does some excellent series, like reading/reviewing every single Anne of Green Gables book and this year reviewing Fat Women’s Lit (which I discussed here) but I chose this post ‘Apology, College in Prison, and Belly Song book thoughts‘ as representative of why she is such a delight to follow.
My favourite post of my own for the year, I won’t say all of them though there is a place in my heart for the ones that receive the least attention, is Author Interview, Justine Ettler, a really informative look into the process and perils of writing post-modern fiction.
My favourite online columnist continues to be communist and feminist Helen Razer in the Daily Review (free) and Crikey (paywalled). Who could not love the line “Liking the TV version of Atwood’s mediocre work of speculative fiction serves as a substitute for feminist knowledge.” (about The Handmaid’s Tale, of course) in this essay on the new female Dr Who (here). Though Guy Rundle, also in Crikey, also a communist and generally more serious, runs her close.
Next year I will be hosting Australian Women Writers Gen 1 Week 15-21 Jan. 2018 and have already put up a ‘beta’ version of a page (AWW Gen 1, above) as a resource for readers interested in the first generation of Australian women writers (1788-1889). I have guest posters lined up and some reviews, but please, I’d love you to read one of the books and give me a link to your review. Ada Cambridge, Rosa Praed and Tasma are all eminently readable and can be found online here at the AWW Challenge site.
In passing, I have also converted Miles Franklin Central to a page (Miles Franklin, above) to make it more readily accessible.
I’m behind in my xmas present buying this year, so no list, though I did follow up a recommendation by one of you after my review of Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible and buy Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – now, who to give it to? At least I’m home this year, I often work through – the roads are very quiet on Xmas Day – Mum and teacher son are coming over from Melbourne and my niece and geology daughter who live nearby to each other south of Fremantle have a day of eating and drinking planned for our extended family, lots of kids!. Enjoy the holidays and all the best for the New Year!
A late addition: Helen Razer’s Year of Living Magnanimously: Our Five Faves for the Festive Season, Daily Review (here)