The new book from the bestselling author of Flesh Wounds. A funny and frank look at the way Australia used to be - and just how far we have come.
'It was simpler time'. We had more fun back then'. 'Everyone could afford a house'.
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 how far we've come - and how much further we can go.
Richard Glover's just-published The Land Before Avocado is a wonderful and witty journey back in time to life in the early 1970s. For a start, he deftly reclaims the book's title fruit from those who have positioned it as a proxy for all that is wrong with today's supposedly feckless and spendthrift young adults. Rather than maligning the avocado (and young people), he cleverly appropriates the fruit as an exemplar of how far we have come since the 1970s' Richard Wakelin, Australian Financial Review
'This is vintage Glover - warm, wise and very, very funny. Brimming with excruciating insights into life in the late sixties and early seventies, The Land Before Avocado explains why this was the cultural revolution we had to have' Hugh Mackay
'Hilarious and horrifying, this is the ultimate intergenerational conversation starter' Annabel Crabb
PRAISE FOR FLESH WOUNDS
'A funny, moving, very entertaining memoir' Bill Bryson, New York Times
'The best Australian memoir I've read is Richard Glover's Flesh Wounds' Greg Sheridan, The
Maybe there’s a little hope for the world after all.
It’s given my Centre-left brain a new sense of hope that maybe we’re going to be okay as a species. Maybe we’ll make it through climate change, maybe we’ll find a way to stop locking people up on islands for simply wanting to survive, maybe we’ll eventually evolve beyond wanting to wear crocs.
The author is a journo of a certain age (around my age) and ABC talk back presenter with a big following, which is justified because he’s very amusing.
Mr Glover and I are both only children. He grew up in Canberra; I grew up in Brisbane. His first memoir Flesh Wounds (2015) made me even more grateful than I already was for the upbringing provided by my dull, boring, married-for-58-years parents.
Tired of contemporaries banging on about “the good old days” and why things were better when I was growing up,” Mr G penned a second memoir about what life was actually like in Australia between 1965 and 1975, between the ages of 7 and 17 for him.
That much vaunted symbol of the millennial, the avocado, provides an entree. (sorry) My parents knew avocados existed — they called them avocado pears — but they’d never tasted one. I don’t think I saw one until I waste university, but there might be a Biot of selective memory at work there.
To minimise the influence of selective memory, Mr Glover has done
considerable archival research about socio-economic, legal, and
cultural aspects of the time.
His account is clearly influenced by the scars of parental
separation when he was in primary school, an experience I am glad
I did not have to share based on my observations of contemporaries
who did. Divorce was less common back then, with the children of
separated parents suffering social ostracisation — real or implied
— by peers on top of the guilt they already felt.
As for the rest, I remember almost all of it, much experienced
first hand, the rest through the eminently credible stories told
by friends and acquaintances.
The picture Mr G paints is frighteningly real, as talk back
callers on Mr Glover’s radio show regularly attest.
The prose is clean and clear, and there are laughs on every page. I can render no higher praise than to call this memoir Bill Bryson-esque. (Mr Bryson liked it too.)
However, it’s best not to dwell on the contents afterwards if you’re a boomer. You might need to up your Prozac dose.
I am so disappointed that I wasted my time reading this book. It was selected for my book club so I felt I had to finish it. The author is condescending and arrogant in his approach to looking at Australian history. We are all aware that times change, but the derogatory tone of this book should be an embarrassment to the author.