The Weekend Australian - Review - - Viewpoints -

BOB Carr’s col­umn on book im­ports ( The Fo­rum, De­cem­ber 13-14) was the san­est thing I’ve read for ages. For decades, the Aus­tralian book buyer has been forced to buy over­priced Bri­tish edi­tions be­cause of some decades­old copy­right law. I hope the Rudd Gov­ern­ment will give read­ers a choice in this mat­ter. Re­form is long over­due. Terry Mar­riott Wheel­ers Hill, Vic­to­ria PETER Tem­ple clearly did not think much of Gil­lian Slovo’s novel Black Or­chids , pub­lished by Bri­tish pub­lisher Vi­rago, and he is en­ti­tled to his opin­ion (‘‘ Par­adise lost in poor prose’’, Novem­ber 22-23). I don’t think, how­ever, that we need the pommy-bash­ing ev­i­dent in Tem­ple’s re­mark that ‘‘ un­for­tu­nately, there has been no con­firmed sight­ing’’ of an ed­i­tor in Eng­land since 1977. I spent most of the past 40 years based in, or liv­ing in, Eng­land, and find this gra­tu­itously in­sult­ing. In my opin­ion, many books by Aus­tralian au­thors also cry out for an ed­i­tor. Can we not re­view books on their lit­er­ary merit alone? He­len Evans Maleny, Queens­land BOB Carr for­gets to men­tion the 30-day rule that means pub­lish­ers must pub­lish within 30 days of the in­ter­na­tional pub­li­ca­tion date or par­al­lel im­ports of books are per­mit­ted. Sec­ond, he fails to men­tion that par­al­lel im­ports within the 30-day rule pe­riod are wide­spread across the book­selling trade, some­thing pub­lish­ers know full well but don’t chal­lenge be­cause they like the present ar­range­ment and want to avoid scru­tiny. Books in Aus­tralia are ex­pen­sive be­cause ev­ery­thing in Aus­tralia is ex­pen­sive, in­clud­ing ware­houses, freight and all the other fa­cil­i­ties and peo­ple pub­lish­ers need. Eric Mei­jer North Syd­ney, NSW ROWAN Callick’s re­view of Frank Dikot­ter’s The Age of Open­ness: China be­fore Mao (‘‘ Well-spun yarn made up in China’’, De­cem­ber 13-14) brought back a some­what un­wanted rec­ol­lec­tion: a group tour of China in the late 1970s, or­gan­ised by a state ge­og­ra­phy teach­ers as­so­ci­a­tion, and mem­o­ries of yarns well spun to gullible teach­ers and aca­demics. One can only hope that other par­tic­i­pants have washed the scales from their eyes. From Callick’s re­view it seems Dikot­ter’s small vol­ume could be a big help in that re­gard. Leonard Colquhoun In­ver­may, Tas­ma­nia UN­LIKE Evan Wil­liams (‘‘ The crit­i­cal list’’, De­cem­ber 6-7), I am not tired of see­ing films about the lonely, the poor, the marginalised, as well as the down­right hi­lar­i­ous. Wil­liams says he wants more films made about the mid­dle class, but aren’t they al­ready over­rep­re­sented in so­ci­ety? As for the of­fen­sive lan­guage in Priscilla: Queen of the Desert , it was a timely re­minder of Stephen King’s warn­ing to writ­ers about the ‘‘ nice po­lice’’: crit­ics such as Wil­liams who want art to con­form to their val­ues, their tastes and their moral­ity. Ma­ree Reed­man Or­mis­ton, Queens­land

re­view@ theaus­tralian. com. au

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