Seasons Greetings 2021

Last year I had a photo of my then newest grandson, age 8 months, watching a campfire. This year he is already climbing trees and he has a younger brother, now just a few weeks old.

Another year, another year of Covid. Of course we have it easy over here in the West, at the expense, in my case, of seeing my older children and my mother for another year. Well, that’s not strictly true, we can visit, but entry or re-entry into WA requires 14 days isolation, and that’s not generally time we can afford, though we will if we have to, for Mum’s 90th next year for instance. Bron’s Covid Chronicles, of her life in inner-Sydney, are always interesting. This time she mentions the Covid pandemic is expected to last years longer than, say, the Spanish Flu. No doubt because all our vaccinating is just delaying rather than preventing its eventual spread and burn out.

Christmas Day this Saturday! Doesn’t it race up on you. Milly has to work, Saturday and Sunday mornings, phoning old people for Red Cross to make sure they’re ok. So it will be a simple christmas dinner, prepared in advance and set out by me and Ms 18. With, and this is the case with all of us probably, many absences round the table. A special call-out to Lou who is in lockdown in remote Tennant Creek, NT.

So, on to the wadholloway Best Blog Post for 2021 …

The first runner up might be my favourite because it goes to the heart of why we read. When I list a top ten it is always the ‘best’ 10, whatever ‘best’ means, but Lou/LouLouReads goes right for the nitty-gritty and lists her fifty (current) favourites (here)

I don’t mean to imply there is an order to the runners up, so next as I write, is Brona who is ‘This Reading Life’ now that we have her on WordPress, but is still Brona’s Books when she comments. Bron makes a point of having a regular poetry post, which I always find interesting. Dropbear by Indigenous writer Evelyn Araluen is a good example and demonstrates how far she digs down on our behalf (here).

I’ve only really been following Buried in Print the last couple of years, though of course I have seen her around for much longer than that. She writes often complex posts, generally about north American writers and I think it’s fair to say with a focus on Margaret Atwood, Black and Indigenous writing, Margaret Atwood, and the environment. Alongside Roots, which she and I and Liz Dexter read along together, she had a project this year, Slavery Past and Present, in four parts (here).

And the winner is …

Liz Dexter/Adventures in Reading, Running and Working from Home. Liz and I don’t often read the same books, though we read Roots together this year, which was both informative and fun, a really helpful way to get the most out of what is a big book. However the post I have chosen is a summary of the amazing breadth of Liz’s reading this year re race relations in Britain. (here).

My favourite post of my own, well it would have to be the 12 post series Such is Life, wouldn’t it. Thank you for allowing me that indulgence.

My annual spreadsheet, constructed hastily at the last minute as usual, says that I read 18 ‘new’ books, ie. from 2020/21. The best were How We are Translated and An I-Novel, though of course I loved the event of a new Sally Rooney. Did I read any new release Australians? Indigenous (Tasmanian) short stories Born into This and poetry Guwayu – For All Times. Kim Kelly’s Her Last Words was great and deserves wider release, and I’m part way through Western Australian poet, John Kinsella’s latest short story collection, Pushing Back. No more foreigners? A quick review brings up Simone de Beauvoir, The Inseparables, This Mournable Body and Butter Honey Pig Bread, all excellent.

I wonder what was the ‘best’ book I read during the year. I thought Clara Morison and Jane Eyre were as good as each other; Kylie Tenant’s Tell Morning This was a surprise, a step up from her normal journalistic prose; and then there’s Such is Life, which I didn’t read so much as tear apart.

Butter Honey Pig Bread reminds me I should thank you all for the books you recommend, this year Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series especially. Which segues into my next year project, to read Black and Indigenous writing from North America and to put up a review at the end of each month. All based on recommendations from you (crossed with what I can get from Audible). For those who might like to read along, January will be Their Eyes were watching God, and February The Autobiography of Malcolm X. For March I’m looking at Nalo Hopkinson, but which book?

Re Malcolm X (and Roots), today’s NYT (actually 17 Dec 21) contains an excellent article: Alex Haley Taught America About Race — and a Young Man How to Write.

I have another project for 2022 (and beyond) which has been mentioned elsewhere, though not my part in it, and that is The Australian Women Writers Challenge site which from February will become a journal focusing on early Australian women writers (Gens 1, 2 and 3 from my POV). Elizabeth Lhuede the convenor, has asked me to join Sue/Whispering Gums as a regular contributor, and we three, with at least one guest contributor each month, will post weekly, short stories from the archives, reviews and essays. It’s my job to find the guests so don’t hesitate to approach me with reviews or more general essays (theaustralianlegend AT gmail.com). AND PLEASE FOLLOW US.

Finally, AWW Gen 4 Week is 16-23 January, 2022. Gen 4 is defined as writers whose careers got underway in the 1960s, 70s and 80s (here). To be clear, although I’ve listed each author’s first work feel free to review anything they’ve written.

Enjoy the holiday season. I hope you all receive (and give) lots of books.

Bill

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47 thoughts on “Seasons Greetings 2021

  1. Oh my goodness, I’m so honoured to be your book blog post of the year – wow! I really appreciate that, especially as I’ve slightly laboured through slumps in my readers and commenters when writing about different kinds of books and writers (that’s evening up now, at least). You’ve been such a support and help there. And I loved reading Roots with you and BIP, too, a highlight of my year.

    No best-ofs here yet, not till 01 Jan. Not sure what I’ll be reading between Christmas and New Year but it usually involves one of my top ten, weirdly. Happy Christmas, however it pans out for you and family!

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    • You’re a worrier Liz, but book blog people seem both loyal and easy going, and anyway it’s always interesting to see what other people are enthused about (that isn’t Trumpism or anti-vax).
      All of us I think are aware, or becoming aware, that people who aren’t white suffer racism, in major and minor ways, every day of their lives; and that our own easy liberal lives are built on centuries of slavery and colonialism; and that we must work our way towards society-wide understanding, acknowledgement and restitution. So you reading in this area was important (and a pointer for all of us, except maybe BIP who is doing similar work with Canadian writers).

      You’re right. I’ve probably cannibalized my own Best Books post. Now I’ll have to think of something else to say, though I’m unlikely to read another best book between now and 31 Dec.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh it’s been noticeable – write about a book about Black people or LGBTQIA people, fewer likes and comments. Intersectionality – even fewer. But it’s coming back up now as people get used to the fact I’m going to read and write about that stuff whether or not anyone comes along to read them!

        And you never know re best books of the year, they can sneak up on you!

        Liked by 1 person

    • This read-a-long with the two of you was just terrific. Such an undertaking…it was the longest book in my year by far (my copy was 912 pages) and led to many hours of mini-series to follow (I had no IDEA just how many Roots’ movies there are…more on that another time)!

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      • It wasn’t compulsory to watch them all you know. Roots was interesting – and maybe 3 good novels stacked end to end – but no Queen for me and no catching up on TV, let alone movies.

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      • Heheh Technically, I suppose that’s true. But now the only one left is the newest one, which is actually the one that interested me most and is easiest to stream (via Kanopy). I know Liz is keen to read Queen and if I happen upon a copy in a Little Free Library, I’ll join (the Irish angle interests me).

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  2. I have so many fears heading into Christmas this year. We’ve already planned to go to Biscuit’s house, where my parents, brother, his wife, their four children, Nick and I will convene. Everyone except the kids, two of whom are old enough to be vaccinated, are vaccinated. Four of us have boosters. Nonetheless, Indiana was just declared the worst state to be in for covid, as “we” are under 50% vaccinated and anti-mask. The top doctors in the U.S. are saying that before we travel anywhere we should confirm everyone is vaccinated and boosted, ask if anyone has any kind of illness symptoms (even suspicion of allergies only), and take a rapid test before leaving (which are expensive and hard to find). To be honest, I’m a bundle of nerves and envy your grandson up in his tree.

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    • I’m glad your brother didn’t stay in the unvaxed camp. Our own federal government, which at times is openly Trumpish, is pushing the states towards the US lit-her-rip model. Which means I think that we are all going to live in a sea of Covid for another couple of years and all we can do is stay away from large collections of people as much as possible.

      Your problems with going to Michigan will be my problems going to Victoria next year. It is lovely to have big family gatherings and sad that they pose a risk. Tell Biscuit we’ve enjoyed having her along this year. And see if your brother can give us a photo of a dragline on the back of his truck.

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      • Garrett got vaccinated, and then his wife did much more recently. Part of it was she’d heard she could lose her job if she didn’t get vaccinated. That mandate hasn’t happened yet, but when I saw her at Thanksgiving, she was telling me she was acting manager because both of the bosses had COVID. I don’t think they’re even able to get a booster yet because it’s been so recent.

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      • Today is my booster day, exactly 6 months since my 2nd AZ. Clinics in Western Australia are meant to be walk-in, so I’ll chase one up after breakfast. Here’s hoping the after-effects are gone before Saturday.

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      • We cheated, and had the family get-together yesterday, for an extended lunch. Went very well. The six-month old granddaughter starred! We figure their in-laws will find them a bit tired and grumpy today.

        For us, today has been exceedingly laid back. Just as well, Perth is getting very warm.

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      • Glad you had a good day Neil. Christmas at my grandparents’ farm in the Mallee was often hot, but always inside, for a midday meal after morning church. Nevertheless, it felt like a Mallee christmas yesterday, with all that heat. Mr one & a half looked very red cheeked at one stage so he and I jumped around in the wading pool for a while and tipped water on each other. Mr 6 weeks understandably played only a bit part. By evening I was a bit tired an emotional, so I slept over and came home this morning (to find I’d neglected to turn the aircon off). Might be a day or two before I’m ready to tackle leftovers.

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    • Be kind to yourself Melanie.

      I have heard Fauci’s pronouncements, and it’s a bit easier said than done isn’t it. Daughter Gums has already had two COVID test-and-isolate-until-results occasions in the last week. It’s stressful. But, at least you are boostered so the risks to you are low? Stick with your sensible family!!

      Have a lovely Xmas.

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  3. It does no good to worry about Covid. Just do the right thing as much as possible to take care of own and loved one’s health. My brother’s family all have had it once or twice as they are non vaccers. No hope. They do what their right wing church tells them. My sister and I who are very left remain healthy with masks and vaccinations. The nurse who gave us our booster yesterday said medical experts think it will be under control by 2024. Who knows. Vaccines will hopefully get better and better. In the meantime, I have enjoyed your posts very much this year and hope your family stay healthy and happy throughout the holiday season and throughout 2022. All the best. 🎄🎁🐧

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    • Pam, Worrying is what I do. I’m not sure it shows in my blogging, but at home I’m regarded as a pessimist – “always pouring cold water on other people’s hopes and dreams”, is how it goes. How’s your arm today? Mine is sore, like a deep muscle bruise. I didn’t get that with AZ (Moderna this time)

      I’m glad you enjoy my posts, I enjoy writing them. And I enjoy reading yours, and your adventures in photography.

      We’re meant to be having 3 40 deg days, so you might get some of that by Boxing Day – better dust off your bathers. Cheers, Bill

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      • Yep, a much sorer arm with the Pfizer for us too. We had ours 10 days ago, but the worst discomfort only lasted 24 hours or so.

        Hmmm, Mr Gums is pretty much the pessimist too! Life isn’t easy but I think we remain healthier by having hope, as long as that doesn’t make us oblivious!

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  4. Bill, thanks for your blogs the year. They, and the discussion they generate, have been most entertaining. Hope you have a merry, and safe, Christmas.

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    • Thank you Neil. And thank you in turn for your witty and (occasionally) perceptive commentary. How’s your bespoke website coming along? How are you coming along? Well and cheerful I hope. I don’t suppose I can talk you into a review for AWW Gen 4.

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  5. Hm. Witty I’ll accept. I have severe doubts about perceptive, even occasionally.

    I am currently back in hospital, my fifth visit this year. Waiting to go down to surgery to get an infusion portal installed. Just minor surgery, I should be home tomorrow, just in time for Christmas lunch with the family (on Christmas Eve).

    The web site is still thought about. My current laptop is very slow. If I replace it I might attack the web site.

    Name an author and a book, and I’ll do you a review. Might even better than my last one

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    • I’ve been whingeing all day about my booster shot making my arm sore. I’ll shut up now.

      I prefer PCs for real work. I have a laptop, but mostly for when I’m sitting up in bed.(or stuck in a roadhouse).

      Gabrielle Carey & Kathy Lette, Puberty Blues. Not because of your well know liking for chick lit, but because it so clearly illustrates the divide between Gen 3 with a small middle class and lots of cramped, dirty and poorly paid industry; and Gen 4 with all that post-War prosperity leading to a burgeoning middle class, with lots of leisure.
      Throw in a couple of mentions of Womens Lib and you’re sure to get an A.

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  6. How organised you are Bill! I’ve started thinking about my favourite reads of the year, but a post won’t happen until Jan. Like Liz I often end up reading a favourite in the week before NY.
    And thank you for the poetry shout out. I appreciate your support as I muddle my way through learning to read and write about them.

    As you will have noticed, my visiting & commenting on other blogs has fallen right off this month. So tired after work each day as well as working extra shifts, means that any window I do get (that’s not work or tired) I try to write a post! But if I had to pick a fav post from your blog this year, it would by your Such is Life posts. You have changed my mind from never ever desiring to read this book, to thinking that maybe one day, if the stars align, I will.

    I would love to reread Their Eyes in Feb, but I already have my own rereading plans (of other books) afoot. I can only justify so many rereads atm. Although I have put in an order at work for a new essay collection by Hurston called You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays due in January. Maybe I will read some of those instead.

    I’m planning on reading some of Shirley Hazzard’s short stories for Gen 4 week and I’m thinking of some kind of blended Eve Langley post for my AWW feature that brings together The Pea Pickers and the recent bio I read. Although I may have also accidentally put in an order for the Mary Gaunt bio at work as well and may head down that rabbit hole instead!

    I hope you and yours stay safe and healthy over the festive season. And that WA learns lessons from how NSW has managed our opening up and how to live with Covid policy!

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    • Not organized, just underemployed. You on the other hand are, I’m sure, being run off your feet, right up to late Fri night (which is why I haven’t written to you any further, wearing my AWWC hat). I hope you do read lots of good books between now and NY – Do your family sneak into your store while you’re not looking to choose books for you? Mine have never bothered, unless I’ve organised for them to buy me a specific title (well, hardly ever. My son and my brother in law will sometimes surprise me).

      I didn’t conceive of my North America project as a read-along but of course I would love company as I go along. For all the time I have on my hands I have done very little for AWW Gen 4 week. But I have been scouting around for essays and yesterday I began on an introductory post which is serving to pull my ideas together (today I’ve been roped into xmas shopping). I look forward to whatever you may come up with yourself for Gen 4.

      Poor old WA is copping a lot of flack for its hard borders, but they are certainly keeping us well for the time being. I miss the kids, but we’ll see them in April.

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  7. As always a bit late. We took two days to drive to Melbourne – 22 and 23 December – and before that I managed to write my own Monday Musings and to draft my Alison Croggon post. That was about it besides packing, sorting the gifts to bring etc.

    Really enjoyed your post and of course I follow and have read most of the posts you nominate including that one of Liz’s. I haven’t read Brona’s latest COVID one yet, though I saw it come through and have flagged it to read.

    I am looking forward to AWW next year, and have another thought re a post which I’ll email you about.

    Meanwhile, have a lovely holiday break and a good Christmas Day. We are waiting for Grandson Gums to appear as we are looking after him for the afternoon!

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    • Mum has been enjoying interstate freedom by spending a week holidaying in Junee with various sons and their partners. No interstate travel for me! Queuing all day for a test every three days is not my idea of how to conduct business – especially if there’s no guarantee of a result within that time.

      Though even with our hard borders, one or two case have snuck in. And I can’t see that Western Australians are ready for the restrictions that open borders will bring in February. If they do open then.

      I’ve been spending a lot of my unplanned time off on AWW stuff, and less than I should have on Gen 4. I’m contemplating returning to Melb-Perth work if I don’t get more up north AND the WA border is opened. At least I’ll have some posts drafted to keep me going.

      Christmas on Milly’s back patio again for a lazy afternoon. Lou is out of lockdown so the teachers left in Tennant Creek are planning a joint feast.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah Junee. We passed through there in November. One of the cafe owners was greatly distressed about staff shortage in her business. Pretty little place.

        Anyhow have a lovely Christmas, and good luck with the work decisions. This thing is not going away soon is it.

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  8. Life got in the way of me leaving a comment here… the last couple of weeks at work were crazy and at one point I thought I might potentially lose my job (long story) so my blogging has been a bit neglected.

    Hope you are surviving this horrid heat… I see thousands of homes are without power and Western Power say it’s too dangerous to fix cos it could create a fire. Meanwhile other parts of Perth are without the internet because of the heat, the trains are on a go-slow because the rails are melting and then there’s the whole covid thing to contend with. Welcome to the climate crisis / end of the world!! Yep, I’m a pessimist too… though I often dress it up as “being a realist”😃

    I am hoping to join your Gen 4 Week and have scoured my shelves for potential reads. I’m surprised to find I have 11 books that qualify (mainly Garner, Jolley, Grenville and Astley). I suspect there will be more potentials on the Kindle.

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    • Kim, I imagine you had a pretty tough Christmas, all round, so I’m glad you didn’t have a power outage to go with it. I was outside all day and thought it got windier about 6.00 but by then that might just have been my imagination. Milly gave me the spare room, so I got myself home this morning and spent a good part of the day sitting in the one aircon-ed room with a book and the cricket.

      It makes me mad that in a decade when we get to 50 deg summers Abbott and Joyce and Morrison and all the rest will be sitting comfortably on the pensions we pay them and the fortunes their donors gift them

      Glad you’re thinking about Gen 4, I’ll be interested to see what you come up with.

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      • Not especially tough because it’s not something I really celebrate. In 20 years I have had three family Christmas’s… so it’s always low key and just treated like another day only with more food and alcohol 😆 The added bonus is that in Australia I am in the right time zone to watch the Boxing Day test! I took out a Kayo offer (two months for $5) just so I could watch the Ashes. I just have to remember to cancel the subscription when the two months is up!

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  9. That was an amazing post Liz put up to summarize her project, I agree! And I dunno why we weren’t following one another more closely until now…probably only because there is very little overlap in our actual reading? Other than a few, like Alexis Wright say, that we have in common. Wasn’t that a great article about Haley in the NYT? I still have it here, to figure out how to share it with you and Liz, and here you’ve already read it! I’m actually still working on Haley a little here and there, but I don’t think I’ll have any massive tomes in my 2022, not if the first couple of weeks are any indication. I’m glad you were able to enjoy your modified holiday plans. It certainly has been a second strange year. Our caseloads and hospital loads are higher than they have ever been throughout the pandemic. I think, when I last chatted with you, they were running about 1000 in the province, but they crested above 20K over the holidays, despite a very successful vaxx rate here (around 90%, depending how one counts, one friend is on a campus where the rate is 99%) and with a passport required for most destinations. Books and my partner are keeping me sane. Am very excited to see and hear how your project unfolds! I assume you’re listening to Hurston’s, which would be lovely on audio.

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    • Not listening to Hurston, as you know by now. I’m not sure where I put my headphones when I stopped using them in the truck, but I probably should dig them up if I’m for listening at home if I’m going to review audiobooks.

      Victoria and NSW, populations 6-7 million have big Omicron outbreaks starting around christmas (NSW as usual ended restrictions too early and let it get away) with daily case numbers around the 20-30,000 mark. Hard to know as the Federal government forgot to order more tests.

      I subscribe to NYT, cheap first year will end soon, but I might keep it going, at least until T#@*p is finally in jail. I suspect too the midterms – the shenanigans not just the result – will be a disaster for the US, and therefore for the rest of us.
      I mostly skim the NYT opinions (still disappointingly majority white and male) but the Haley story jumped out at me.

      Liz reads lots of different books to me and no doubt to you, but also many the same. I think we are all focusing more on race these days – what the white response should be to genuine Black and Indigenous grievance – and Liz’s post really gave us all the lead I thought.

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      • Same situation here with inadequate test supplies. Well, an opportunity to focus on different news, I suppose. Schools went back this week, here. But they’ve already announced that there won’t be any more reporting from schools (where about 25% of students and staff were dealing with COVID before Omicron hit).

        The opinion pages are not something I read very often either: it’s random. And some of their regular reporters don’t strike the tone I’m craving either. But, overall, I find plenty to read and learn and think about.

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