Many good things happened in my life this year. Possibly the biggest was that Ngurrumbang, the short film whose screenplay I co-wrote with my elder son, was screened at three festivals in Australia and one in Europe, with Flickerfest still to come. But here are three relatively lazy looks at the year that’s just finishing.
One: The first sentence (or sometimes the first two sentences) of the first blog post for each month:
January: Whatever the ghost of Rembrandt might think about the state of Dutch art in the early 21st century the arrival of Florentijn Hofman’s magnum opus in Darling Harbour today was a hit, even after the seeming endless and mostly lame concert and tumbling act that preceded it.
February: I heard Paul Ham speak about this book [Hiroshima Nagasaki] at Gleebooks early last year.
March: Geoff Lemon, co-editor, was surely tempting fate and the critics when, as soon as the 32nd issue of Going Down Swinging was complete, he nicknamed the impending Nº 33 the Jesus Issue.
April: I recently heard a distinguished novelist claim that she grew up believing New South Wales was mostly settled peacefully and that damage to the original inhabitants was largely unintended, caused by infectious diseases and the like.
May: The launch of this book [Pam Brown’s Home by Dark] last weekend was a convivial affair in an Erskineville pub.
July: I was extremely lucky in the timing of my university studies. I started at Sydney Uni in 1967 when, because of an overhaul of the New South Wales school system, only a very small cohort had graduated from high school the year before.
August: After Karl Ove Knausgaard’s mountains of mundane detail, we wanted our next book to be one that spins a great yarn.
September: It’s about two and a half years since we moved home. About a year ago, the grass tree (Xanthorrhoea) that had stood outside our kitchen window in the old house was ailing in its new location – most of its fronds were brown or browning.
October: This book [Contemporary Asian Australian Poets edited by Adam Aitken, Kim Cheng Boey & Michelle Cahill] seems to be part of a current efflorescence of attention to Asian Australian writing, and of Australian attention to Asian writing.
November: It’s November, and once again, while all over the world people with stamina take on NaNoWriMo, I’m setting myself the modest goal of 14 sonnets in the month – LoSoRhyMo (Local Sonnet Rhyming Month).
December: As Vagabond Press’s beautifully crafted Rare Objects series of chapbooks approaches its hundredth and final title, Jennifer Maiden makes her debut at Nº 95.
Two: Top Ten Movies (in no particular order)
Three: Notes on the year’s reading
Rather than single out some books as the best, let’s see how I went in reading diversely.
I’ve listed 63 books in my ‘Reading and Watching’ column. I didn’t finish at least five of them and quite a few were journals, not books at all. It looks as if I read 53 books as such.
- 31 were by men, 22 by women
- 6 were translations – two from Norwegian, one each from Bengali, Russian, German and Catalan
- 32 were Australian
- 24 were poetry books, including substantial anthologies as well as tiny chapbooks
- 7 were Book Group books
- not necessarily the best, but 3 books that enriched my sense of what Australia is were Heather Goodall’s Invasion to Embassy, Noel Beddoe’s The Yalda Crossing and Contemporary Asian Australian Poets, the anthology edited by Adam Aitken, Kim Cheng Boey & Michelle Cahill
- the Art Student’s pick from her year’s reading were Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue, Eleanor Caton’s The Luminaries and her crime fiction discovery, Martin Walker’s Bruno xx series.
That’s it. Happy New Year, all!