Season’s Greetings 2018

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Season’s greetings once again and thank you for accompanying me on my random wanderings through literature and life. The photo above is of Western Australian christmas trees, Nuytsia floribunda, which flower from October to January, hence the name. Their Noongar (local Indigenous) names are are moojar, moojerool, munjah and mutyal.

I took the photo a few years ago near Eneabba, sandy coastal heath country 300 kms north of Perth, and the year after bushfires by the look of it. The trees are everywhere about, flowering brilliantly, in bits and pieces of roadside scrub around Perth, and after Sue/Whispering Gums reviewed Katharine Sussanah Prichard’s Christmas Tree (here) I meant to get another photo, but this one will have to do.

KSP’s short story (here in Trove) contains the lines –

Against the dim blue of the summer sky the Christmas trees had thrown their blossoming crests; they lay along the horizon like a drift of clouds, fluted and curled, pure gold.
The trees stood irregularly in the dry, scrubby land of the plain beyond Gillard’s fences to the north of Laughing Lakes homestead. Their trunks were not visible from the backdoor of the house to where Jinny Gillard stood, her eyes on that distant line of yellow blossom.

What writing! But I think few non-Western Australians would realise what she was writing about.

I’ve read even fewer new releases this year than usual: Extinctions, Josephine Wilson; The Drover’s Wife, Frank Moorhouse ed.; Charmaine Papertalk Green & John Kinsella, False Claims of Colonial Thieves; Krissy Kneen, An Uncertain Grace; Nikki Gemmell, After; Robert Edeson, Bad to Worse. And they are a mixture of 2017 and 2018. My favourite (new release fiction) was Elizabeth Tan’s Rubik; but there was also Arundhati Roy’s compelling The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. I only received one book for review – my own fault, I didn’t chase any up – Bohemia Beach, Justine Ettler’s return to literary fiction after a considerable hiatus. There was some 2017-18 fiction amongst the 190 audiobooks I read; of those Lincoln in the Bardo was disappointing and the rest were just entertainment. The standout, from any year, was Kate Atkinson’s When Will There be Good News? (2008).

Of course, the book release highlight of the year was Michelle Scott Tucker’s Elizabeth Macarthur (review, interview) which I attended, along with Lisa Hill and spouse. And as they say, a very pleasant evening was had.

Now. The wadholloway Best Blog Post for 2018 goes to …

Kate W at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest for the LOL funny The Rules of Engagement.

Kate also got a ‘runner up’ for the much more serious The Green Bell, as did Emma at Book Around the Corner for The Meursault Investigation. A late runner up prize (because I only read it today) goes to Mairi Neil of Up the Creek with a Pen for Can Poetry Promote Peace and Creativity Challenge Politicians Effectively? – a collage of text, photos and poetry on the theme of Remembrance Day 2018.

My favourite post of my own was Border Districts, Gerald Murnane which will go on (the book not the post) to be an enduring Australian classic. But I should also mention in this context my Journals which really are an indulgence which you allow me to write without the bother of background reading and research; and also AWW Gen 1 Week, to which so many of you contributed.

As usual, my favourite on-line columnist is Helen Razer at (paywalled) Crikey and (free) Daily Review. During the year she linked to a NYTimes article which discussed the false equivalence of deaths in the Holocaust, under Hitler, and deaths under Stalin which mostly came from famine and the Siege of Leningrad. Razer’s article today is The Problem with End-of-Year Lists (her Person of the Year is always Malala Yousafzai, who “still managed to get away with attending Marxist conferences, denouncing global poverty and Australian refugee policy and not appear like the genuinely transformative force she is”).

A new blogger I ran into this year is Indian, The Horrible Prophet, and he may already have run out of steam. After reading Arundhati Roy I’ve been interested in the dysfunctional and almost Trumpish aspects of inter-ethnic and inter-class relationships in India. I’ve just finished Q & A (Slumdog Millionaire) which was not the feelgood story I expected, and is explicitly anti-police, and am now reading All The Lives we Never Lived, by Anuradha Roy. The Horrible Prophet here has a little rant about expectations on Indian brides.

And just to get you in the mood for the season, another blogger I follow, Robert Graham’s Anarchism Weblog has Kropotkin: Merry Effing Xmas.

My driving year finished yesterday (Monday). I’ve pulled my last trailer for Sam and Dragan. For all their sturm und drang, I’m grateful to them for getting me started, and for the truck they sold me which, unlike the ones they retained, ran like clockwork for the whole year. Next year, hopefully, I will be an independent contractor with my own trailer(s), Dragan has offered to sell me two which would be very suitable – set up for machinery cartage – but which I suspect he has priced to recover some of the bargain I got with the Volvo.

I’ve already handed the truck over to a mechanic who has promised to set it up for the next million kilometres of its working life, and am home with my feet up, though not for long. Christmas is at Milly’s this year, with all the kids and grandkids and various sisters in law. Over dinner – Greek, Zeus Street, on the roof of her local shopping centre car park – last night, Milly gave me my instructions which include clearing her back patio so a handyman can do the brick paving I haven’t got round to finishing, rubbish removal and the collection and distribution of items between our various houses (mine, hers, Gee’s).

Don’t forget AWW Gen 2 Week, 13-19 Jan. 2019 and enjoy your holidays!

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32 thoughts on “Season’s Greetings 2018

    • Mari’s work is different from anything else I read, but always interesting and well done. Festive season started as might have been predicted – working for x-Mrs Legend, and one day in, the quote for reconditioning the truck engine has gone up. Also I made it to the PO and received both a parcel of books thankyou, and a new release (Dave Warner) to review.

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      • Ah, glad they arrived safe and sound:).
        BTW I’ll correct you before Mairi does: it’s a good Scottish spelling with two ‘i’s i.e. MAIRI (pronounced like Mary but with a Scottish accent, of course!)

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      • Haha, and while we are correcting spellings, I believe KSP is Susannah not Sussannah. (We Sues are very clued in to the various permutations of our name.) KSP is a trick one – she’s also “arine” like Katharine Hepburn (not “erine” as a lot of people write (and she’s “ich” not “itch” as a lot of people write!) You got those other two right.

        BTW Thanks for the link (if you are still talking to me) and thanks for the pic of the Christmas Tree. Until that story I had no idea of this tree and was trying to under our traditional pines with golden flowers. I just couldn’t conjure any up at all!

        Great post – I missed that Kate one, probably travelling, so will go read it now.

        Have a wonderful holiday season – and I hope you do het to have a bit of a break!

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  1. Hi there. Thanks for an entertaining year and some great blogs to look into. Re Gerald Murnane’s The Borders – he’s being his usual meek self about just winning the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for it. He’d lost a club in the EDENHOPE golf course recently and told my husband he’d buy himself a whole new set if he didn’t find it that day – that he was leaving it up to fate as to whether or not to splurge from his generous prize money. He found his club and walked away a happy man.
    I devoured the novel poolside during a recent trip to Queensland, and loved it. I can’t wait to talk to him about “the reading boy and the remembering man” and what a profound insight to that boy/man I gained.

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  2. Hey Sue, I’m still talking to you! – though I struggle sometimes to respond to lists – I enjoy the comment streams, after everyone’s posts, not just my own, as much as I do the posts.

    I’m afraid that between old age and rampant spell prediction my spelling is going right off, but I’ll try and do better – I’d better given the number of times I lectured the kids.

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    • Oh, did you think I was nagging you about not commenting on MY list post? No, I meant, if you’re still talking for me after I’ve lectured you about the spelling of KSP!! I would never nag you about commenting on my post. You are one of my top commenters!

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      • Being argued with (or corrected) is my favourite activity! But yes, I had a guilty conscience about pushing list posts to the bottom of the pile, not because they are not interesting, but because particularly with popular British/US fiction, I often have nothing to say.

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      • Well then you can put your guilty conscience straight back away because it’s not needed on this occasion. Some people love list posts because they feel there’s usually something there that they can comment on.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is going to be a dumb question: do you guys buy fake pine trees for Christmas? Here, you can walk in the woods and swing an ax and be sure to hit a traditional Christmas tree.

    Have you done any Christmas shopping?

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    • Christmas trees mostly come from christmas tree farms. We do have some native pines but not near the big cities. Non-native pines used to be popular in the south eastern states, not so much these days, but there are still huge commercial plantations of radiata pine.

      I’ve nearly formed the intention of going down the street and commencing shopping. Tomorrow maybe.

      Have a happy, snowy christmas and watch out for bears when you’re out swinging your axe (or do they hibernate. Nothing hibernates in Australia).

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  4. Thank you Bill, I am extremely honoured – I had fun with the Brookner post and The Green Bell is a book that spoke to me on a different level.

    To you, many thanks for your Journals – I have thoroughly enjoyed these posts – small glimpses at our similarities (books!) and differences (trucks! Distances! WA!) are fascinating and I always learn something (still not sure how you find the time to research your posts so thoroughly!).

    I was painfully aware of how few new releases I’d read this year when I compiled the ‘Best of the Best List’ but I figure that a year dominated by Stella Prize and MWF reading is a good year 🙂

    Thanks again for your readership and for your always informative, always interesting reviews.

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    • Thank you Kate! I know you were surprised by the reaction to ‘Rules of Engagement’ but it was an innovative (and funny) piece of writing.

      I’m glad you like the Journals. My (education professor) brother in law who reads but never comments, said he was horrified earlier in the year to find my blog had been taken over by truck photos.

      I’m sure your studies take up as much time as my driving, and I’m equally sure we’ll both go on finding time for books. I’m looking forward to another year of blog following, writing and reading.

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      • I like the truck photos!

        I recall feeling unsure straying from purely book reviews to more personal info but I like reading a mix on other people’s blogs – I think the ‘life’ posts give the reviews context.

        I have now finished studying. I’ll be doing a fair bit of voluntary work next year (counselling and continuing with palliative care biographies) and hopefully will also find paid counselling work (which looks promising with the Andrews government in Victoria!).

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      • I used to contribute to an English truck photo blog, that was interesting, but my DSLR camera’s gone rusty since then and for the time being I’ll stick to books.

        Good luck with work.

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      • Yes, I like the journals too, and I like to see some more personal info. I don’t do a lot, but I try to make some posts more personal – such as My Literary Weeks – and I like to add personal context to reviews when they are applicable. Trent Dalton’s book will bring back some memories for me I think …

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      • Sue, speaking of your public/personal life I’d been meaning to ask you for a while for the name of your Austen group’s blog, but using my initiative not to mention the letters JA in conjunction with ACT in the blogs you follow column, I’ve worked it out for myself.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, Bill, for mentioning my post – I’m humbled and honoured because I’m sure a lot of people wouldn’t have taken the time to read it through. Time is something we all seem short of nowadays, including me – but as I sign up for the aged pension I’m hoping to have more of it to allocate to things I enjoy like reading and writing:) I will now ‘follow’ you and enjoy keeping updated with your reviews and adventures and be able to do justice to online interaction with the ‘free’ time I hope will materialise. All the best to you and yours for the festive season and here’s to a happy, healthy, and dare I hope, a more prosperous new year for everyone.

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    • Sue and Lisa who are retired don’t seem to have any more spare time than do I who am not. So good luck with that! But I look forward to your comments. Do you read Nathan Hobby? We all have more spare time than he does with 2 babies and a PhD.

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  6. I’m not very good at making the time to respond thoughtfully to the many blogs & bloggers I love to stay in touch with, but please know that you are one & that I pop by as often as I can.

    I plan to join in gen 2 reading week, but January is already slipping away from me, so no guarantees sorry.

    Season greetings to you & yours& love your Chrissy tree 🎅🏽

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    • Same! I often read posts as they arrive but then need time to respond. I hope we see you during Gen 2 week, I hope we see me! Having my (grown up) kids here is taking up all my time.

      Milly’s Christmas tree, great isn’t it, we put shelves across the lower rungs to display all the presents (and to stop the dogs chewing on them).

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