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Book 31 - 2019

Book 31: The Land Before Avocado: Journeys in a lost Australia by Richard Glover - 269 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
There's plenty of nostalgia right now for the Australia of the past, but what was it really like?

In The Land Before Avocado, Richard Glover takes a journey to an almost unrecognisable Australia. It's a vivid portrait of a quite peculiar land: a place that is scary and weird, dangerous and incomprehensible, and now and then surprisingly appealing.

It's the Australia of his childhood.
The Australia of the late '60s and early '70s.

Let's break the news now: they didn't have avocado.

It's a place of funny clothing and food that was appalling, but amusingly so. It is also the land of staggeringly awful attitudes - often enshrined in law - towards anybody who didn't fit in.

The Land Before Avocado will make you laugh and cry, feel angry and inspired. And leave you wondering how bizarre things were, not so long ago.

Most of all, it will make you realise just how far we've come - and how much further we can go.


Thoughts:
This is getting a four stars for the last 50 pages or so, which I'll explain below.
So I'd seen this book around at book shops but I didn't pick up a copy until I heard Richard Glover speak about the book at the recent Brisbane Writer's Festival. His stories were hilarious, so after the session (the last of the four day festival that I attended) I raced to the festival book shop to buy a copy. I was lucky enough to be there before anyone else and actually managed to get my copy signed by Mr Glover.
Basically, this book is about how terribly bizarre Australia was in the 1960s and 1970s. It looks at food, as the name suggests, laws, works, cars, immigrants, and homosexuals (LGBTQI+ would blow that era's minds!). All in all, it sums up that life has significantly improved. I already knew this, which I think might be news to Mr Glover, who explains early on that he was inspired to write the book after both his millennial co-worker and millennial son were baffled by some of his story, if not downright disbelieving. I'm a millennial but my Mum and grandmother have told me enough of that era for me to not be too surprised. Still, some excellent eye-opening stories.
The last 50 pages however turn into a bit of a political...discussion (its not quite a rant), praising progressive and decrying conservatives in equal measure. I will give Mr Glover his due in that he acknowledges, in this section, that life has gotten significantly better. He pretty much attributes this almost entirely to the Labor Government and unions etc. I'm sure he's right. But there's an undertone throughout that anyone who votes conservatively now is halting progress. I take real issue with this. I've voted for both parties, and I am of the firm belief that both parties haven't quite got it right all the time. The Labor party of Whitlam's day is not the same party that exists now. Nor are the union leaders as civically minded today. I prefer to 'vote' with my actions, more than have faith in government - I treat all people with respect, I consistently try to reduce my impact on the planet, etc, etc. If anything, I hope that's the legacy of my millennial generation.
Nonetheless, an interesting look at recent Australian history.


31 / 50 books. 62% done!


8562 / 15000 pages. 57% done!

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Tags: history, memoir, non-fiction
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