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From Secret Ballot to Democracy Sausage: How Australia Got Compulsory Voting, by Judith Brett

Much to my astonishment, I was singing the praises of this book the other day, when it transpired that my friend did not know what a democracy sausage was.  So for the edification of those unfortunate citizens who do not enjoy the same privilege as we do here in Australia, an explanation is in order.

Because we are almost unique in the world in having compulsory voting, and because impecunious state schools are very often the place for polling booths all over the country, and because enterprising Parents and Friends associations can spot a good fundraiser when they see one, it has become routine practice for there to be a sausage sizzle so that voters can assuage their hunger pangs in a worthy cause.  Indeed on election day there is a dedicated website where you can even scout around for the best democracy sausage options.  They don’t all offer fried onions or chilli sauce, you know, and some of them have a cake stall as well!

See: https://anzlitlovers.com/2019/03/16/from-secret-ballot-to-democracy-sausage-how-australia-got-compulsory-voting-by-judith-brett/

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

Much to my astonishment, I was singing the praises of this book the other day, when it transpired that my friend did not know what a democracy sausage was.  So for the edification of those unfortunate citizens who do not enjoy the same privilege as we do here in Australia, an explanation is in order.

Because we are almost unique in the world in having compulsory voting, and because impecunious state schools are very often the place for polling booths all over the country, and because enterprising Parents and Friends associations can spot a good fundraiser when they see one, it has become routine practice for there to be a sausage sizzle so that voters can assuage their hunger pangs in a worthy cause.  Indeed on election day there is a dedicated website where you can even scout around for the best democracy sausage options.  They don’t all offer fried…

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March 16, 2019 · 4:05 pm

The Madonnas of Leningrad, by Debra Dean

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

The Madonnas of Leningrad was another impulse loan from the library: the title struck me as incongruous (Religious iconography/Soviet name for St Petersburg), so although the blurb on the back was just the sort of generic praise you expect from an American ‘national bestseller’ I was intrigued enough to read the inside blurb:

Bit by bit, the ravages of age are eroding Marina’s grip on the everyday. And while the elderly Russian woman cannot hold on to fresh memories—the details of her grown children’s lives, the approaching wedding of her grandchild—her distant past is preserved: vivid images that rise unbidden of her youth in war-torn Leningrad.

In the fall of 1941, the German army approached the outskirts of Leningrad, signalling the beginning of what would become a long and torturous siege. During the ensuing months, the city’s inhabitants would brave starvation and the bitter cold, all while fending off the…

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January 21, 2019 · 1:12 am

The Forgotten Notebook, by Betty Churcher #BookReview

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

This is just a quick review to let you know about another one of Betty Churcher’s wonderful ‘notebooks’.

I’ve written about Betty Churcher (1931-2015) before.  She was an arts administrator, well-known and much-admired as the director of the National Gallery of Australia from 1990-1997.  People flocked in their thousands to view the blockbuster exhibitions she organised, and she shared her love of art in a wonderful TV series called Hidden Treasures.

And she also published her notebooks, which are a delight for amateur art-lovers like me.  As she travelled the world organising loans for her exhibitions, she would sketch aspects of the paintings she admired in her notebooks, usually annotating them as well.  In published form, these notebooks contain her sketches and annotations, reproductions of the paintings and her own thoughts about them, written in her trademark unpretentious style.  The Forgotten Notebook is her third, and sadly, her last.  Using a notebook…

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September 12, 2018 · 11:16 pm

2018 Rare Book Week #2

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

Today I had a rare opportunity to visit the Parliamentary library in Spring Street.  This Rare Book Week event was titled ‘A Gentleman’s Library’ because of course, when the library was set up along with the Victorian Legislative Council way back in 1851, that’s what it was: there were no women MPs.  In fact it wasn’t even representative democracy.  Victoria had just separated from New South Wales on July 1st and the library was established to serve the needs of just 30 MPs.  It wasn’t until 1856 that the Legislative Council became remotely representative and even then women did not have the franchise and neither did Indigenous people who had to wait a very long time for this most fundamental of human rights…

We were given a brief history of how the library came to be stocked.  It was rather shambolic really: there was a vague idea that the new…

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July 5, 2018 · 12:00 am

La Vue Waterfront Restaurant, Brisbane

Travels with Tim and Lisa

There is no fine dining on Norfolk Island, so we decided to splurge here in Brisbane before we are reduced to more simple fare…

La Vue Waterfront Restaurant is on a prime waterfront site, so it has a lovely view of the Story Bridge:

View of the Story Bridge Brisbane (1024x614)

It’s not really what we in Melbourne would call fine dining: it was a bit old-fashioned in an ABBAesque kind of way and there is no cocktail list (so we were obliged to check out the cocktail bar at the Marriot Hotel afterwards) and the wine list by the glass was nothing special, but the service was attentive and we enjoyed our meal anyway.

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June 22, 2018 · 9:20 pm

Life in the Garden, by Penelope Lively #BookReview

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

My mother was not a great reader, but she was a keen gardener across three continents and Life in the Garden would have been the perfect birthday gift for her.  Penelope Lively is a great raconteur and this memoir of her own life in gardens is nostalgia reading for any of us with memories of English gardens and of creating our own gardens, wherever they happened to be.

Lively thinks that there is a genetic element to being a gardener, and that it passes through the female line.  She tells us about her grandmother’s garden in Somerset, her mother’s garden in Cairo where she spent her childhood, and then about her own two gardens in Oxfordshire and her current small urban garden in London.  There are hints, here and there, that although her mind is as sharp as ever, Lively is getting on a bit, something I’d rather not think…

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February 7, 2018 · 10:36 am

2017 ANZLitLovers Australian and New Zealand Best Books of the Year

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

I looked at last year’s post about the best books of the year before starting this, and since I still get that ‘warm glow’ when I look at my 2016 final choices, I’ve decided that my rather rough-and-ready methodology is actually quite good!  So I’m doing it exactly the same way this year:

These are the books I really liked and admired during 2017.  They are books that I read this year, not necessarily published this year.  The contenders are ANZ authors only.  If you read this blog regularly you know that I also read international authors and translations too, but for this list, well, it’s summertime here so let the sun shine on antipodean authors.  All links go to my reviews.

Fiction Longlist

I rated all of these Australian and New Zealand books 4-stars at Goodreads, and I felt a surge of pleasure remembering them when I looked at their covers at See What You Read in 2017. …

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December 30, 2017 · 4:27 pm

Those Wild Rabbits, by Bruce Munday

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

It struck me this morning when I was reading The Weekend Australian Review, that two of the books reviewed are companions to this one which I have just read by Bruce Munday.  Those Wild Rabbits is a salutary reminder (and a warning) from an era that has vanished.  Geoffrey Blainey makes the same point about a vanished world in his review of Slow Catastrophes: Living with Drought in Australia (Australian History)by Rebecca Jones and The Vanished Land: Disappearing dynasties of Victoria’s Western Districtby Richard Zachariah.

When I was married to The Ex, I became part of a huge family, and most of them lived in the bush or wanted to.  That was where their roots were, in the dry dusty plains of the Mallee in an arc that had spread out from the Goldfields where some had been quite successful.  When the aunts and uncles of this extended family retired they went back to the bush, to Wedderburn…

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October 21, 2017 · 2:03 pm

Wow! It’s Italian, by Hilda and Laurie Inglese

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

Yesterday I went to a pasta cooking class, an event organised by the Kingston Library at its Clarinda branch.  The presenters were husband-and-wife team Hilda and Laurie Inglese who used to run a cooking school in the Yarra Valley.  I learned why our ravioli fall apart, and I learned a few tips for making great pasta – the most important of which is that you should roll the pasta at least 20 times, maybe more, and that you should always, always, always weigh the ingredients so that you get the ratio of flour and liquid right.  (Did you know that in a packet of a dozen, eggs can vary by 6 grams from smallest to largest?  If you’re working with only 100g flour and the 50g egg is only 44g, that’s enough to spoil your pasta.)

And I bought the cookbook: it’s called Wow! it’s Italian, because that’s what Hilda’s cooking students used…

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April 5, 2017 · 4:56 pm

2016 ANZLitLovers Australian and New Zealand Best Books of the Year

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

I’m not really keen on doing these Best Books lists because it’s always a struggle to choose when there are so many good books I’ve read, but here goes anyway…

These are the books I really liked and admired during 2016.  They are books that I read this year, not necessarily published this year.

(At the time of writing there are 9 days reading left for this year, so who knows what other treasure I might find…)

The contenders are ANZ authors only.  If you read this blog regularly you know that I also read international authors and translations too, but for this list, well, it’s summertime here so let the sun shine on antipodean authors.  All links go to my reviews.

Fiction

I rated all of these 4 stars on Goodreads, and I felt a surge of pleasure remembering them when I looked at their covers at See What You Read in 2016.  (I didn’t rate anything 5 stars…

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December 29, 2016 · 9:41 am