Books of the Year 2012

Dennis Altman et al.

Dennis Altman

It is always tempting to use this opportunity to draw attention to books that may have been somewhat neglected, and looking back over 2012 three books stand out: Russell Banks’s Lost Memory of Skin (Ecco), Kim Westwood’s The Courier’s New Bicycle (Harper Voyager), and Frank Bongiorno’s The Sex Lives of Australians (Black Inc., 9/12).

Banks is one of the most interesting contemporary US novelists, and Lost Memory of Skin is a tough book, built around the lives of men estranged and outlawed from society, and struggling to survive in the interstices of urban Miami.

My two Australian books are very different: Westwood’s is a queer science fiction romp through a believable future Melbourne, while Bongiorno has written a major synthesis of an aspect too often forgotten in our historical memories. Together they illuminate the ambiguities of sexuality in ways that are important in the context of current debates.

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