#6 Degrees of Separation from Trust to Tears, Champagne, and Laughter

This meme is hosted by Kate from Books are my Favourite and Best, and this month starts with Trust by Hernan Diaz. As soon as I knew this was the starting point, I read the book curious to see where it would lead me.

I chose a metafiction connection, which enabled me to link with Gould’s Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan. A terrific book, set in Tasmania during its time as a penal colony.

And once in Tasmania, I chose to dwell for a while, moving from Macquarie Harbour in the 19th century to kanamaluka/the Tamar estuary in the 20th century and linked with Limberlost by Robbie Arnott. This was one of my favourite books of 2022, and I recommend it highly.

I could stay in Tasmania, but I chose to drift down kanamaluka/the Tamar estuary to Bass Strait and then make my way to Sydney.

The Coast by Eleanor Limprecht was my next stop, a lazaret at Little Bay in the early 20th century. A sad novel, heartbreaking at times but also filled with courage and love.

Courage takes me inland, to the town of Batlow in the Snowy Mountains. The town was considered undefendable from the bushfires raging on 2 January 2020. In Undefendable: The Story of a Town Under Fire edited by Sulari Gentill and Sarah Kynaston, you will find a collection of memories by those directly affected, by those who fought to save Batlow and those who evacuated.

Memories of bushfires took me to Canberra, in 2003. On Saturday 18 January 2003, four people lost their lives and 500 homes were destroyed when out-of-control bushfires combined and descended on Canberra’s south-western suburbs. In Tears, Laughter, and Champagne by Karen Downing, nine women recount their fifteen-year journey from the day the fires changed their lives. These are the Singed Sisters. As devastating bushfires become part of life for so many communities around Australia this book serves as a reminder of the enduring nature of friendship, good food and great champagne in tough times.

From Trust to Tears, Champagne and Laughter, from metafiction to memoir.

Victory: The Inside Story of Labor’s Return to Power by Peter van Onselen and Wayne Errington

‘The prime minister who almost never was.’

It’s history now: the return of the Australian Labor Party to the Government benches in May 2022. But this is a return to power with a difference as the teal independents have changed the face of the Australian Parliament.

In this book, Peter Van Onselen and Wayne Errington examine Labor’s rebuilding process after the loss in 2019, the six weeks of the election campaign and identify some of the challenges ahead. The book opens with the challenges faced by Anthony Albanese in 2019: the breakup of his marriage and the need to rebuild the Labor Party after the election. Anthony Albanese adopted a different leadership style from his predecessor (Bill Shorten). He was able to capitalise on some of the Morrison Government’s flaws during the bushfire crisis in 2019, but the outbreak of COVID-19 slowed Labor’s momentum federally. Until … Labor won the Eden-Monaro by-election of 2020 thanks to NSW Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro. Barilaro, no fan of the Liberal candidate advocated a preference flow to Labor for anyone voting National. The irony.

The campaign is the heart of this book. The chapters:

Week 1: Gotcha!

Week 2: Finding momentum

Week 3: No Albo, no worries

Week 4: Ready to launch

Week 5: The bulldozer versus the builder

Week 6: The future caught up with him

take us through the campaign. From Mr Albanese stumbling over a question on the unemployment rate in Launceston, through Mr Morrison bowling over a child playing soccer in Devonport, the campaign is full of memorable moments.

So far, almost eight months after the election, the Labor Government has been busy. Legislation for the new federal anti-corruption commission has passed through the Australian Parliament, and a referendum on an Indigenous voice to Parliament is expected next year. The Labor Government has the numbers to pass legislation through the House of Representatives but needs to negotiate legislation through the Senate. We live in interesting times.

I’d recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Australian politics.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

Book 1 in my 2023 Nonfiction Reader Challenge. I’ve entered as a ‘Nonfiction Grazer’ and this book should be included under the heading of ‘Politics and Government’