The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - ROSE­MARY SORENSEN

COMICS! In­escapable! For ex­am­ple: a school course in Ger­many that in­cludes a comic called The Search . As part of the course stu­dents are asked to imag­ine what they’d do if, like Es­ther in the comic, they were con­fronted with the choice of ei­ther sav­ing them­selves or be­ing taken to a con­cen­tra­tion camp along with their par­ents. A long way from Don­ald Duck, that one. And now, from May, the con­tro­ver­sial Philip Pull­man, frowned on by those who be­lieve the His Dark Ma­te­ri­als books are dan­ger­ously athe­is­tic, will be writ­ing for a new weekly comic, pub­lished by Ran­dom House in Bri­tain. It’s Tintin and As­terix for the 21st cen­tury, says David Fick­ling, the pub­lisher. Does this put chil­dren’s book pub­lish­ing on no­tice for a big and ag­gres­sive wave of celebrity comics? YOU spend three years on a jour­ney by horse from Mon­go­lia to Hun­gary on the trail of Genghis Khan. You ac­cu­mu­late nine jour­nals doc­u­ment­ing this story. You park your car, with the jour­nals sit­ting on the back seat, in St Kilda in Melbourne and some­one nicks them. No won­der writer Tim Cope, to whom this hap­pened last month, is feel­ing as drained as the River Murray. If any­one out there knows any­thing about th­ese di­aries, Cope is of­fer­ing $ 500, no ques­tions asked, for their re­turn: tim@ tim­cope­jour­neys. com. THE short list for the in­au­gu­ral Bar­bara Jef­feris Award ( for a novel that em­pow­ers the sta­tus of women) in­cludes three nov­els from smaller presses: Karen Foxlee, The Anatomy of Wings ( Univer­sity of Queens­land Press); Rhyll McMaster, Feather Man ( Brandl & Schlesinger); and Geral­dine Wooller, The Seam­stress ( Univer­sity of West­ern Aus­tralia Press), plus Michelle de Kretser’s The Lost Dog ( Allen & Un­win). Judged by The Week­end Aus­tralian lit­er­ary ed­i­tor Deb­o­rah Hope, nov­el­ist Rosie Scott and aca­demic Leigh Dale, the $ 35,000 prize, funded by a be­quest from Jef­feris’s hus­band John Hinde, is ad­min­is­tered by the Aus­tralian So­ci­ety of Au­thors and will be an­nounced on March 28. Speak­ing of awards, a poet win­ning the big one is al­ways news: John Tran­ter took out the South Aus­tralian Pre­mier’s Award, for Ur­ban Myths . WHEN Max Barry ( for Com­pany ) was cho­sen, along with Barry Heard ( for Well Done, Those Men), by read­ers in Vic­to­ria as their favourite sum­mer reads, he re­sponded: ‘‘ The most en­joy­able and im­pres­sive part for me was the op­por­tu­nity to blog along­side all th­ese ex­cel­lent au­thors. Usu­ally it’s im­pos­si­ble to keep that many writ­ers sober.’’ This did not make us won­der whether Barry’s stereo­type of the drunken au­thor was ac­cu­rate, but rather why he imag­ines that most blogs are writ­ten by sober folk. The ev­i­dence sug­gests the op­po­site. BRIL­LIANT idea, a Proust din­ner as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine fes­ti­val held last month. Din­ing and read­ing are of­ten com­pat­i­ble de­sires, so Olivier Normandin, the owner of Chez Olivier, made Mar­cel Proust the topic for dis­cus­sion at his book­ish din­ner. Imag­ine his sur­prise when peo­ple who in­quired about the event asked if Proust would be there in per­son. One of the writ­ers who was there, An­toni Jach, says what a lovely thought, Mar­cel turn­ing up for a chat and chew.

over­flow@ theaus­tralian. com. au

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