THE OVERFLOW ROSEMARY SORENSEN
WHY have sports journalists decided one team suffers defeat to another, not by another? Reader R. J. Solomon adds that prepositional oddity to our recent comments about the use of ‘‘ talk to’’ instead of ‘‘ talk about’’. He also decries ‘‘ the practice of emphasising prepositions rather than nouns and verbs, particularly in introductions and conclusions’’. On ABC radio ( and Phillip Adams gets another guernsey), he hears people say X is the professor of linguistics at Harvard, putting the stress not on professor, linguistics or Harvard but on the words of and at. In the case of the sports journalists, prone to feeling they must avoid a simple locution in favour of something fancier, the odd use of ‘‘ defeat to’’ is explicable. But why this move to emphasising the little connecting words rather than the nouns in a sentence? Curiouser and curiouser, said Alice. HERE’S something about which to feel optimistic. Attached to the announcement that The Lamb Enters the Dreaming: Nathanael Pepper and the Ruptured World is this year’s winner of the Victorian Premier’s Prize for a First Book of History was the comment, ‘‘ The judges of this prize were astonished by the quality and range of both the research and writing.’’ Quality and range! Publishing is not in as parlous a position as the bestseller lists may suggest. But, as Henry Rosenbloom from Scribe, who published Robert Kenny’s book, says, this was a book they knew would win awards, but wouldn’t sell too many copies. ‘‘ What do you do, when you see a manuscript that is clearly outstanding but on a topic that won’t be popular?’’ Rosenbloom says. ‘‘ Do you turn your back on it?’’ Well done that Scribe didn’t. ROSENBLOOM says his gut feeling is that the Prime Minister’s Awards, despite their prestige and their $ 100,000 price tags, will be in the same category as the premiers’ awards: good for a news story, lovely for the authors, but without much effect on sales. THE idea of a fringe program attached to a writing festival is brilliant. But please, dear Burn Writers Collective, the young folk behind a new initiative in Brisbane, consult a dictionary occasionally. Writing — The Fringe Festival, is an adjunct to the Brisbane Writers Festival, held during three nights in a West End bar. Despite lining up some writers who are, frankly, a little too mature to be described as funky, the alternative to the tried- and- true format of the official festival is a good idea. However, while calling something a ‘‘ three- day jam- packed soiree of all kinds of naughtiness’’ may be forgiven ( just) as exuberance, the promise that the fringe is being run by a ‘‘ swarthy bunch of cool cats’’ cannot. What can they mean? DAVID Langum runs an eponymous charitable trust that awards two prizes of about $ 1000 each to books of American historical fiction and history or biography. When he heard that Random House had withdrawn from publication Sherry Jones’s novel, The Jewel of Medina , following suggestions it would offend Muslims, Langum banned Random from entering books in his prize. He called on publishers to stand up to such ‘‘ cowardly selfcensorship’’. Looks as if many agree with him. The book has been picked up by other publishers in many countries, and is set to come out in the US next month.