Weekend Round-Up #9

"The World Language", another article on the rise and rise of the English language, is the lead in this weekend's "Age Review". I'm not sure why this piece by Jim Davidson - professor of history at Victoria University, Melbourne - was published at all. It doesn't seem to add a lot to the general discusson of the modern state of the English language other than to act as a listing of all the recent publications in the field. At times the article tries to make a point about the funny way English is fragmenting and loses its way entirely: "The computer revolution also brings its challenges. For one thing, it has tended to privilege numbers over words, even content. We can all think of humorous results when a lengthy name is truncated, as if the additonal letters were so many decimal points surplus to requirements. The oxymoron 'numeric password' says it all." Well, I'm sorry to say, it doesn't say anything to me. I have no idea what point he is trying to make here. Davidson does attempt to discuss where English is heading from here, at the start of the 21st century, but doesn't get anywhere beyond is final paragraph: "More likely written English will become like the Latin of the Middle Ages, shared internationally by the computing classes as the global language of the net." Sorry to surprise you mate, but it's there already.

Muriel Porter reviews God Under Howard: The Rise of the Religious Right in Australian Politics by Marion Maddox, and finds it gives a pretty good overview of where religion resides in the current conservative Federal government: right at the centre. I would have thought that just mentioning the name of Tony Abbot would have been enough. Two books dealing with an earlier, I hestitate to say more innocent, time are reviewed by Simon Caterson: Pulp: A Collector's Book of Australian Pulp Fiction Covers and The Wide World: True Adventures for Men. Caterson is quite taken with Pulp saying that it "recalls the hey-day of Australian popular fiction in [this] ground-breaking, informative and lavishly illustrated guide to this neglected part of our literary history." It is interesting to note that this book is published by the National Library of Australia. No page count is given, but a list price of $24.95 makes it quite attractive.

"The Age Review" covers books in reviews of various lengths: the major reviews, shorter pieces of some 300 words or so, and shorter pieces - see below - of about 150. A fair range given the 3 or 4 broadsheet pages that are allocated each week to books. The shorter pieces this weeks are dominated by Australian publications with: Word Map by Kel Richards and the Macquarie Dictionary - strange authors and considered a work in progress; Griffith Review: The Lure of Fundamentalism - the publication's seventh issue which is "making a big name for itself with its big-picture theme issues and the quality of the writing"; Where's God by Victor Kelleher and Elise Hurst - a book for children which explores a six-year-old's attempt to figure out where God actually is; andIsland 99 edited by David Owen - the Tasmanian publication that might be marking time as it heads for its 100th issue. Short notices are given by Fiona Capp to Sir William Stawell, Second Chief Justice of Victoria, 1857-1886 (Stawell stupidly charged the Eureka Stockade diggers with high treason), and This Everlasting Silence: The Love Letters of Paquita Delprat and Douglas Mawson 1911-'14. Capp covers four or five non-fiction books a week for the "Age Review" which helps round out the overall book coverage. Cameron Woodhead does a similar service for fiction each week, and this week mentions The Black Crusade by Richard Harland which recently won the Best Horror Novel award in the Aurealis Awards.

Added to the items above is a profile of Hunter S. Thompson reprinted from "The Guardian"; a major piece by Jane Sullivan about David Mitchell, interviewed as he passed through Melbourne recently on his way to the Perth Writers' Festival; and Tim Flannery's review of Collapse by Jared Diamond, which has moved very far up on my "buy or else" list, and which Flannery believes "is probably the most important book you'll ever read." Coming from anyone else, this would be very off-putting. Coming from Flannery it's a badge of high merit. So it's a good, varied selection this week.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 27, 2005 8:55 PM.

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