THE OVER­FLOW ROSE­MARY SORENSEN

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books -

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.

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