Kill Your Darlings asked for my best-of for 2020, and here’s what I said:
This year, I read precious few ‘new-release’ books , as I gave in to my desire simply to re-read things I knew I already loved (lockdown does that to a person, in my experience). One that strong-armed its way through was Luke Horton’s The Fogging. It struck a chord with its depictions of precarious work and travel anxiety (remember that?) and its meditation on the thousands of small moments that make up a relationship. I inhaled it.
It may be a bit niche, but if you’re writing your first book, or releasing your seventh, boy-oh-boy is The First Time podcast for you. It’s a warm, frank and fascinating look at putting your writing out into the world. Start at the beginning, or with the Nardi Simpson episode. Which leads me handily to my book of the year: Nardi Simpson’s Song of the Crocodile. I got the audiobook first, and promptly bought a paper copy too. I’m not usually one for ‘family sagas’, but this story blew me open with its characters and the way it captured a small town. The line by line often had me in tears (sometimes simply tears of jealousy). The author reads the audiobook and you should get it for the beauty of the Yuwaalaraay language alone.
While it’s definitely not a new release, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969), starring Jane Fonda, is the film that will stay with me after this year is over. (I get away with it here because I saw it as part of the Choreomania film series, now showing at NSW Art Gallery—more people should know about these screenings because they’re free and great!). The film is about a 1930s dance marathon (which were apparently real things). What it’s actually about, though, is the way people are left to fend for themselves against forces they can’t hope to control. Ending on a note of things we can fear, but not fend off—no matter how fast we dance or run—feels apt for the year that was, and as we hot-step our way onward into the new normal.