THE OVERFLOW ROSEMARY SORENSEN
WE did think of calling this column Clancy, but settled for The Overflow , enjoying the implication of excess. But blow me down if the title hasn’t elicited a response from novelist and academic Antoni Jach, who tells us the father of his mother’s mother was one Thomas Gerald Clancy. In 1897, apparently, Clancy wrote a response to Banjo Paterson’s poem, which includes these lines: ‘‘ Now, though years have passed forever/ Since I used, with best endeavour/ Clip the fleeces of the jumbucks/ Down the Lachlan years ago,/ Still in memory linger traces/ Of many cheerful faces,/ And the well- remembered visage / Of the Bulletin’s ‘ Banjo’.’’ It’s a brave man who tries to get a well- behaved foot out of ‘‘ bulletin’’. ‘‘ WHAT is it about the word narrative,’’ asks Constance Hale, editor of Harvard University’s Neiman Narrative Digest , ‘‘ that makes reporters think ‘ crisis’, or ‘ heartbreaking illness’, or ‘ unspeakable danger’?’’ One of this country’s top reporters will be trying to break that habit when they are a guest at next year’s Neiman Narrative Conference, a get- together of 1000 narrative journalists that aims to improve the quality of writing worldwide. The winner of this year’s Walkley Award for a nonfiction book, to be announced on November 29, will get a spot at that conference. SIGNS of the times: at the Sydney Bookshow this weekend at Leichhardt Town Hall, for $ 60 you can spend 30 minutes talking to consultant and former children’s book publisher Mark McLeod about how to write for kids. Last weekend, if you wanted to learn how to write about sex, you could have talked to not one but four writers ( Kate Holden, Fiona Giles, Gerard Windsor and Gabrielle Carey) during a four- hour seminar that cost $ 40. Strange times. HA! The Financial Times in London polled readers for their ‘‘ best business book of all time’’, and overwhelmingly the answer was Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations . It may be a classic, but what does choosing an economic treatise published in 1776 say about the mindset of the business class? A KANGAROO in a jumper, photographed in 1968 by Jeff Carter, has the distinction of being the 100,000th digitised image in the collection of the National Library of Australia. Not a grand photograph, but a sweet one, the tolerant look on the little marsupial’s face particularly endearing. The library’s Pam Gatenby points out that the digitisation of the library’s picture collection, which started in 2001, has ‘‘ transformed the way the library works’’. Digitised collections can be viewed at www. nla. gov. au/ digicoll/
overflow@ theaustralian. com. au POOR old Rimbaud. That ‘‘ damned poet’’, who wrote miraculous verse before heading off to Abyssinia ( Ethiopia) for dubious adventures, is about to have 1000 pages of his letters published in France. The big excitement is that the editors have turned up a previously unpublished letter in the archives of the ministry of foreign affairs, a begging letter dated 1888. He wanted the French vice- consul in Harar to finance his caravan so he could influence colonial matters. If you want a really good biography for Christmas, order Graham Robb’s Rimbaud . Superb writing, extraordinary life.