Lit crit(ical)

As we breathlessly wait for word on whether my home town has been accorded the official label of City of Literature, The Age has run a timely editorial on that idea, and its flipside – the need for greater focus on reader development and literacy.

In Melbourne, a city of many readers and many dogs, the light of literature has shone strongly and steadily throughout its history as a beacon of knowledge, enlightenment and ideas, illuminating where we have been, where we are and where we are going. There are more bookshops in Melbourne than in any other Australian city, and there are more books, magazines and newspapers sold in Victoria than in any other state or territory. This city has a proud and honourable tradition of fostering fine publishing…
The pleasure of reading, something once taken for granted in the best sense of the phrase, has become harder to achieve; in the age of email and text messaging and other forms of instant gratification, reading a book takes time and space in a hectic world full of distractions. Literature is slow food versus the take-away chook leg…
If reading comes down to basic skills, so too does language. Spelling, punctuation and elementary grammar skills are as essential to the written word as clarity and accuracy. Yet all too often it is blighted by the nomadic apostrophe, the spelling mistake, the dangling participle. These may be mere rivets in a superstructure, but without them, the edifice crumbles. For a city of literature, literacy in all its forms can never be ignored.

And so say all of us.

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