Last year I had a photo to illustrate John Dos Passos’ great USA, so this year, belatedly, I have the Spanish Flu, which apparently originated in Kansas, USA not that anyone would ever point fingers (story accompanying photo here).
I’m envious of the (few) new releases I read in 2019, there was nothing like that that caught my attention this year past, though at least I finally got to Too Much Lip (so so) and Pink Mountain on Locust Island (pretty good). My stats say I read 6 books from 2019/20 but none stuck, well except for the idiosyncratic The Sorrow of Miles Franklin beneath Mount Kajmakčalan. I have just purchased and made a start on Elizabeth Tan’s Smart Ovens for Lonely People. She is a fine (Western Australian) writer, quirky and funny, and if you haven’t yet read Rubik you really should.
If you care about the latest books, Kate W of Booksaremyfavouriteandbest lists her favourites for 2020 (here) and THE 2020 List of Lists (here). Of course the real best read of 2020 was every newspaper and newsletter (NYT, Palmer Report, HuffPost, Truthout, Guardian) in the days after 3 Nov. It is hard to believe that a man so unselfconsciously stupid was able to win even one election.
But if like me you like your books to season for a while here are the (Australian) Best Reads for half centuries past –
There were 18 novels published, including one Patrick White, and two or three other interesting works –
Jessica Anderson, The Last Man’s Head
Dianne Cilento, The Hybrid
George Johnston ed., The World of Charmian Clift
Geoffrey Dutton, Tamara
Germaine Greer, The Female Eunuch
Cynthia Nolan, A Bride for St Thomas
Oodgeroo Noonuccal, My People (verse)
Barry Oakley, A Salute to the Great McCarthy (football!)
Sayers ed., James Bonwick, Western Victoria – will review “soon”
Dai Stivens, A Horse of Air (1970 Miles Franklin Award winner)
Patrick White, The Vivesector
A hard year for readers. The number of books published was down 4 or 5 on 1919, none of the novels stands out. Louisa Lawson died and amongst the births were Gwen Harwood, Leo McKern (Rumpole!), Oodgeroo Noonuccal, and Colin Thiele.
JHM Abbott, The Castle Vane
AH Adams, The Australians
Louis Esson, Dead Timber (a collection of plays)
Vance Palmer, The Shanty-keeper’s Daughter
Pyke (?), Coles Picture Book
Conrad Sayce, The Valley of a Thousand Deaths (also designed Winthrop Hall, UWA)
Arthur Wright, A Rough Passage
Nine books (8 last year), including two novels, one famous! Adam Lindsay Gordon died. Mrs Gunn, Henry Handel Richardson and Ethel Turner were born.
Martin Cash, The Adventures of Martin Cash (convict, bushranger)
Marcus Clarke, For the Term of his Natural Life
Adam Lindsay Gordon, Bush Ballads & Galloping Rhymes
John R Houlding, Rural and City Life (by “Old Boomerang”)
Maitland, The Higher Law (English author, English book)
Nothing much to see here. One book. Joseph Banks died, Raffaello Carboni was born (his book on his experience of the Eureka Stockade is excellent and I really must get myself another copy).
John Oxley, Journals of Two Expeditions into the Interior of New South Wales (available free on Proj Gutenberg (here))
Joy Hooton and Harry Heseltine, Annals of Australian Literature, 2nd Ed., OUP, Melbourne, 1992