THE OVER­FLOW

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - ROSE­MARY SORENSEN

THERE were some amaz­ing quotes in the Aus­tralian So­ci­ety of Au­thors’ re­port on ed­u­ca­tional pub­lish­ing in Aus­tralia. It tells how a vet­eran of 50 ti­tles had the temer­ity to ask Pear­son Ed­u­ca­tion for copy­right re­ten­tion and roy­alty pay­ment but was ‘‘ flatly turned down’’; how a part- timer was given four days to write a chap­ter on Year 12 chem­istry; how a text­book writer cal­cu­lated that the pub­lisher was likely to gross more than $ 1 mil­lion from a book for which it was of­fer­ing a flat fee of $ 9000. The ASA summed up the sit­u­a­tion by say­ing: ‘‘ This is dire not only for the au­thors but also for the ed­u­ca­tion of Aus­tralia’s youth.’’ A STAR­TLING typo in an ar­ti­cle from the Lon­don Re­view of Books , where Tom Nairn, writ­ing from Melbourne on Aus­tralian anx­i­eties about iden­tity, refers to a well­known crime novel by Peter Tem­ple. ‘‘ In The Bro­ken Shore ,’’ Nairn wrote, ‘‘ the co­phero re­peat­edly finds his in­quiries side­tracked by crazed ideas about na­tive Aus­tralians (‘ Bongs’) be­ing re­spon­si­ble for most crimes and com­plaints.’’ THE poet- in- res­i­dence scheme run by the Queens­land Gov­ern­ment may not have be­come the ‘‘ cel­e­brated fix­ture on the Queens­land lit­er­ary cal­en­dar’’ Arts Min­is­ter Rod Welford claims, but it cer­tainly has at­tracted some in­ter­est­ing po­ets to Bris­bane. This year, Michael Hof­mann will make Queens­land his base for a few months from Au­gust. He has trans­lated ev­ery­one from his fa­ther, cel­e­brated Ger­man nov­el­ist Gert Hof­mann, to Kafka and Brecht. His re­cent Se­lected Po­ems, a slim vol­ume pub­lished by Faber last month, has been wel­comed with de­light by re­view­ers who men­tion how rare, strange and valu­able is a new Hof­mann poem. RE­STRAINT has be­come anachro­nis­tic. The great- great- grand­son of Charles Dick­ens is pre­par­ing to defy the writer’s clear in­struc­tions that ‘‘ no mon­u­ment, me­mo­rial or tes­ti­mo­nial what­ever’’ be erected af­ter his death, but that his books should stand alone. Be­cause 2012, the year of the Olympics in Lon­don, will be the bi­cen­te­nary of Dick­ens’s birth, the fam­ily is en­dors­ing busy plans to whack up a statue or two or even three. Shock and hor­ror from those who think this is wrong may make no dif­fer­ence con­sid­er­ing that, last year, a Dick­ens World opened in Chatham, Kent, com­plete with a Great Ex­pec­ta­tions boat ride through a Vic­to­rian sewer. The Dick­ens Fel­low­ship wants the writer to be named the ‘‘ pre­sid­ing spirit’’ of the 2012 Olympics, but surely his so­cial feisti­ness would be bet­ter suited to the Par­a­lympics? RE­PORTS about the sale of the 22 Borders book­shops in Aus­tralia had New Zealand book and sta­tionery chain Pa­pers Plus as the fron­trun­ner fol­low­ing the re­treat of A& R Whit­coulls. It’s been a year since the Aus­tralasian chain was put on sale, and no doubt the process has been com­pli­cated fur­ther by the fi­nan­cial woes of the US Borders chain, put up for sale last month. WHO’D be a kid th­ese days? HarperCollins has an­nounced it has world rights ( it’s not fair to limit this to US chil­dren) to a chil­dren’s pic­ture book from block­buster sex- and- sen­sa­tion writer Danielle Steel. It’s called The Hap­pi­est Hippo in the World , and no doubt you will want to know just what makes Steel’s hippo so happy. It’s sim­ply that he’s green, like the US dol­lar.

over­flow@ theaus­tralian. com. au

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