The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books -

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.

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