(Image: AAP/David Moir)


Earlier this year, writer Jane Gilmore explored her experience of poverty  — its Kafkaesque bureaucracy, how unhealthy it is, its loneliness, the way it pervaded every corner of her life — in a piece as brave as it was well written. It was the best, and most wrenching, thing I read in 2018. Other recommendations for holiday reading — Clinton Fernandes’ Island Off The Coast Of Asia provides a long view of how power has been used by vested interests in Australian foreign policy for generations. Robert Forster’s Grant & I is from 2017 but I only just caught it, and it’s a must-read for any Go-Betweens fan and compelling as a portrait of male friendship as well.

While Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time podcast has maintained consistent high-quality intellectual fare for two decades, my 2018 must-listen podcast is Reply All — which is ostensibly about the weirdness of the internet but ends up covering a staggering array of public policy issues. And on the basis that the world’s greatest film critic, and one of its greatest writers, Howard Hampton, always needs exposure, two of his pieces of the last 12 months: one on the Michael Caine obscurity Pulp and the other on The Death of Stalin. Better yet, revisit his brilliant analysis of Inherent Vice from 2014.