Posts Tagged ‘non-fiction’

When it comes to genre, I’m usually more True Blood than true crime. But it’s a wrench to resist Jake Adelstein’s story, as told in his book Tokyo Vice: Jewish-American kid applies for a job at a Japanese newspaper (and not just any newspaper; it’s the Yomiuri Shimbun, which has the highest circulation of any newspaper in the world) and despite his Japanese language score being in the bottom ten, he’s called in for an interview and he gets the job, only to end up sitting opposite a member of the biggest organised crime group in Japan, who is relaying a death threat from his boss. Just another day in the life, really.

Adelstein’s first posting is in half-rural, half-suburban Urawa, a ‘place considered so uncool by urban Japanese that it had spawned its own adjective, dasai, meaning “not hip, boring, unfashionable”’. But, as unfashionable as it is, Urawa is where he cuts his teeth as a police reporter. Navigating the complex spatial politics of the Yomiuri’s office (“Who the hell told you could sit down here!”) and getting up to speed with the house style (“I’ll expect you to know it within a week.”) are small tasks compared to learning how to update the office scrapbooks.

Starting out in any profession is a big ask in any case, but being an American who works for a Japanese newspaper has its own challenges. Adelstein’s first kikikomi (interviews related to a crime) are comedic adventures, with potential interviewees mistaking him for a salesman. The cultural differences serve him well, too, sometimes; “dumb gaijins” can get quite handily behind police tape.

Adelstein is a chummy and deft translator of Japanese culture: from the Japanese reverence for language, as exemplified by the concept of kotodama – the spirit of language that resides in every word; to the underbelly of Japanese culture, which makes our Underbelly look like Play School. Eventually, Adelstein scores a post at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Press Club, where he begins to cover the extraordinary crime syndicates of Japan – the legendary yakuza.

As Adelstein explained in an interview on WNYC, the yakuza are more Wal-Mart than West Side Story. On one end of the spectrum, there are the members who ‘own’ the illegal immigrants peddling counterfeit wares on the street. On the other end, you have the supremos who launder money through their innumerable – and legitimate – loan businesses and hostess bars.

It would be hard not to admire the seemingly unassailable extent of the various yakuza enterprises, except that, unavoidably, regular people get hurt or disappear. Adelstein’s career path takes a turn when he becomes involved in the story of Lucie Blackman, a British girl who went missing while working as a hostess in Tokyo’s infamous Roppongi district. In this quest, Adelstein straddles the line between impartial observer and passionate truth seeker. And it wasn’t to be the only time he came face to face with the ugly side of Tokyo.

(Cross-posted from mwfblog.)

Now we’re really digging into the archives. I actually read The Shadow of the Sun over a year ago, in preparation for my holiday to north-east Africa.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have a great deal of anxiety about reading into any subject you know very little about. Having only read a sprinkling of African literature – Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Buchi Emecheta, Ben Okri – I confess I was overwhelmed by my unfamiliarity with that continent’s history and writers. For this reason, my travelling companions and I bought up big, books-wise, before we left – the first Popular Penguins series was a goldmine, furnishing Paul Theroux’s Dark Star Safari, Redmond Hanlon’s Congo Journey and Ryszard Kapuscinski’s The Shadow of the Sun.

Kapuscinski was a well-respected Polish journalist who travelled to Africa whenever he could over a period of forty years, speaking to local people and recording their stories. He’s written nine books that are available in English, and plenty of others besides. Given that I was so keen to disembarrass myself of my ignorance, Africa-wise, it’s somewhat poetic that the author I selected to assist me through my bewilderness, was recently accused of fabricating some of his stories. That controversy certainly stirs up some questions of truth and fiction, and whether the latter can ever be employed in the service of the former. Read Neal Ascherson on Kapuscinski’s literary reportage here.

So, Kapuscinski. To begin, he states that

this is … not a book about Africa, but rather about some people from there – about encounters with them, and time spent together. The continent is too large to describe. It is a veritable ocean, a separate planet, a varied, immensely rich cosmos. Only with the greatest simplification, for the sake of convenience, can we say “Africa.” In reality, except as a geographical appellation, Africa does not exist.

… which is wonderful, because a land mass housing over a billion people and 53 different countries defies any kind of easy understanding. As promised, Kapuscinski writes about people – the people he meets, the dictators he sees from afar, the desert drivers, the United Nations High Commissioner for refugee affairs. However, despite his protesting, his stories about one person, one family or one village are almost always points that expand to gradually encompass a much bigger panorama: the failure of transport in Ghana, or the structure of an Ashanti tribe.

Of course, it is always easy to start with the self. An image that sticks in my mind to this day: Kapuscinski lying abed with malaria, trembling with repugnance and cold and exhaustion, with the local villagers calmly pressing a wooden chest on top of him. ‘The only thing that really helps is if someone covers you. But not simply throws a blanket or quilt over you … You dream of being pulverized. You desperately long for a steamroller to pass over you.’

He is also equally attentive to broad-scale events that affect the fortunes of a nation. ‘The Anatomy of a Coup d’État’ is a collection of notes Kapuscinski kept while in Lagos in 1966. Ahmadu Bello, the leader of Northern Nigeria, is felled by a bullet in the middle of the night; rebel troops attack the palace of the prime minister of Western Nigeria; in the other three cities, a small army continues to take over the de facto power, until on Saturday ‘Lagos awakes, knowing nothing about anything.’

Though it is certainly made up of various and varied tales, reading The Shadow of the Sun is not really a project of simply absorbing multiple stories. To read Kapuscinski is to be invested in a dream that a Westerner can begin to understand the inhabitants, history and politics of a vast land she knows nothing about. This dream is made possible because of Kapuscinski’s lucid and unpretentious writing, his vivid imagery and his empathy. And the dream is kept alive by the number of books he wrote – next on my list is The Emperor, which is about the downfall of Ethiopia’s Haile Selassie I.

A couple of years ago, I was sitting on a train, and I felt something brush against my leg. At first, I thought it was merely an accidental brush, the kind of irritation that public transport regularly affords its sufferers. But it happened again after I moved a little distance from the man sitting next to me, and again after I had put a hand’s span between us. I was sure that it wasn’t a mistake, that the man had gotten his jollies from touching me even though I didn’t want him to, and I took a long and glaring look at him. Once he realised I was on to his disgusting game, he sprinted off the train at the next station. I was grossed out and indignant, and I was determined to report the incident to the police.

At the police station, the officer asked me if I would be willing to assist an artist to put an Identikit image together. I thought I could recall his face pretty clearly, so I agreed. At first, the artist showed me some pictures of men who fit the profile I’d briefly described, but I knew for certain that my assailant hadn’t been any of the men pictured. Then, the artist began to ask me about individual facial features: what did his eyes look like? His nose? His mouth? As I opened my mouth to describe the man’s face, I felt my recall of his face melt away in my mind. I was utterly bewildered. What had happened to my memory?

Malcolm Gladwell’s 2005 book Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking is a book about what Gladwell calls ‘rapid cognition’, and how it is often more powerful and useful than extended thought processes. Gladwell is a bestselling author known for his obsessive interest in and ability to identify particular universal cathexes. In Outliers, he attempted to make less ‘crude’ our understanding of how people become ‘so accomplished and so extraordinary and so outside of ordinary experience that they are as puzzling to the rest of us as a cold day in August’. The Tipping Point was the result of a fascination with ‘the sudden drop in crime in New York City – and that fascination grew to an interest in the whole idea of epidemics and epidemic processes’.

As mentioned above, in Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, the first of Gladwell’s books I have read – Gladwell’s project is to explain how we make snap decisions, and that first impressions can be better than the ones we cultivate after long thought. Who wouldn’t find that fascinating? Though we, as humans, pride ourselves on our capacity for logical thought, there is something seductive about the idea that we are naturally preternatural, that our brains are so disposed to correct decision making that we don’t need time to improve our decisions.

In order to illustrate his thesis, Gladwell kicks the book off with a real-life story about a kouros, or Greek statue of a nude male, acquired by California’s J. Paul Getty museum.  The Getty inquired after the bona fides of the statue, comparing its features with other examples from the age, checking out the identity of the art dealer and inviting a geologist to ascertain the age of the materials used in the artwork. Satisfied with the authenticity of the kouros, the museum agreed to acquire it. However, when the Getty’s curator mentioned this while unveiling the statue for Evelyn Harrison, an expert on Greek sculpture, Harrison said, ‘I’m sorry to hear that.’ How did she know what other experts couldn’t – that the statue was a fake?

Although the statue example is arguably as much a cautionary tale as a paean to the capacity of the human mind to make accurate decisions in a short time – just ask more experts next time, Getty! – it’s a great example that sets instinctive reactions against long processes. Of course, it’s not as simple as just this dichotomy, and in Blink, Gladwell also investigates a few different elements of swift decision making processes, including their vulnerability to error. One example of this vulnerability is what Gladwell calls ‘the Warren Harding error’, named after ‘one of the worst presidents in American history’. How was he elected? ‘Why, the son of a bitch looks like a senator’. That is, Gladwell claims, we all have biases that are unacknowledged and difficult to dislodge, including unconscious biases for people who are tall, for instance, or biases against minorities or women. In addition, as with Harrison’s ‘instinctive’ reaction to the statue, training can enhance the snap decisions we are able to make through honing in on the important information and discarding the dross.

Gladwell is talented at picking vividly illustrative examples and studies to support his points, though the book occasionally assumes an authority that it is perhaps too bare bones to really deserve. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that Blink was so popular because it’s so accessible, and so pedagogical – I walked away from this book with a strong feeling of having learned something without having done much work. The insight earned from reading this book, however, is not illusory, and is often immediately awarded, because decision making is so integral to everyday experience for most of us. For instance, while reading the section about creating successful structure for spontaneous decisions, I quickly designated the ‘brain melt’ I experienced at the police station as the result of ‘verbal shadowing’, which occurs when the left hemisphere – which thinks in words – displaces the visual memories collected in the right hemisphere. This explains the ‘lucky’ and timely decisions we sometimes make based on visual information without having kicked off a verbal thought process, such as in Blink‘s case of a fireman who ordered everyone out of a building seconds before the floor of a building ignited.

Our brains are magnificent organs, and while they sometimes fail us, they often fizz and pop away without our having any conception of how they work. But just as we can learn by storing facts and details, we can turn our thinking faculties upon the very part of us that enable us to do those things. Blink is a wonderfully narrative-driven exploration of a particular set of the brain’s strange but beneficial functions. But while Blink does much to explain the seemingly mysterious process of correct and swift decision making, it does not make that process less interesting; rather, it replaces the sense that some of us are special or have a sixth sense, with a healthful dose of that old medicine, ‘knowledge is power’.

We hear a lot about the death of language. Whether it’s the death of the author, the novel, the letter – every literary item imaginable has, it seems, been eulogised. Michael Quinion’s Gallimaufry is a delightful book that trawls through the obituaries of the many such fallen soldiers: words that have sailed off into the ether.

A word-nut will have lots of fun with this book. Quinion is an engaged guide, and uses a light writing style, which is a blessing when he navigates the linguistic and historical origins of the words he studies. The title word, gallimaufry, which now means a ‘hodgepodge’, comes from old French. It originally meant a stew or sauce, and it’s still used today, though perhaps only in very enlightened (or pretentious) corners of the English-speaking world. Quinion has divided his enquiry into five thematic parts. The first deals with food and drink, and is of course my favourite; the second with health and medicine; the third, entertainment and leisure; the fourth, transport and fashion; and the fifth, names, employment and communications. Those of you with refined palates will relish the knowledge that the word bottarga (or cured fish roe) – as we know it in Australia – came from the Arabic butarkha originally. There are lots of wonderful little slices through history like this that make you feel like you’re lifting up a magic curtain into the past.

Wonderfully, the thematic division of the book allows you to discover English-speaking habits and cultures that are long fallen by the wayside. Quinion fossicks around in the verbal dirt for things I now kind of regret finding out. Harry Potter fans will know that a bezoar is a ‘concretion of hair or vegetable fibre that forms naturally in the stomachs of ruminant animals’, used once upon a time as an antidote to poison. Men awaiting the barber’s attention used to enjoy the music of a cittern. Also, find out what Benjamin Franklin’s thoughts were about wearing a wig! However, I just couldn’t be enthralled by discovering that the zingerilla and the bransle were fancy lady-and-gentleman dances. Perhaps my fellow Jane Austen readers would beg to disagree.

Despite the subject matter of Gallimaufry being predominantly old and now obscure words, Quinion is certainly no obscurant. There are lots of treasures to be had here for readers of British historical fiction, and even those who once pondered why the Australian Women’s Weekly ‘Dolly Varden’ cake was termed as such. (The Dolly Varden was a rakishly side-slung hat. Though what connection a hat has to a cake with a doll stuck in it, I’ll never have the capacity to fathom.) If you like odd language trivia and showing off your vocabularistic prowess, you will like this book, as it will enable you to say things like: ‘Did you know that “fig” used to mean “banana” in the West Indies at one stage?’ NO, I DIDN’T. And now I do.

NB. I work at Oxford University Press.

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Converse to my experience when reading Simon Winchester’s The Meaning of Everything (people would look at the sepia-toned cover and think I was a learned nerd; notwithstanding the accuracy of the nerd part, it was galling, etc), reading Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots and Leaves was conducive to some fairly different interactions with other members of society. Nothing to do with the gung-ho ‘punctuation warrior’ approach Truss espouses in the book, but it did bring on an unexpected encounter with a stranger on a tram. The fellow, older than I (and I suspect, quite inebriated), pointed at the cover and commented that his nickname at university had been ‘Wombat’, because he ‘eats, roots and leaves’. Pretty good. Amused by this anecdote, I humoured his desire for conversation. I was in the middle of telling him that he should encourage his son to learn languages from as young an age as possible when he fell asleep. Literally, actually, does-this-actually-happen fell asleep. Oh well. A friendship bites the dust.

I am sure that Truss would like this anecdote. She has a great sense of humour, though that sense of humour is often displayed in conjunction with an alarmingly violent distaste for incorrect use of punctuation marks. Eats, Shoots and Leaves (the title refers to a panda-walks-into-a-bar joke) reminds me how important voice is in non-fiction. Truss is a scampish vigilante who would be lots of fun at a dinner party, and the book comes with punctuation stickers which she exhorts her fellow guerillas to use in the quest for perfect public punctuation. Though not a ‘grammarian’, she’s sought help from old sovereigns of the English language, such as Amis, Burchfield, Fowler and Bryson.
Our friend Truss rightly points out that exacting standards in punctuation can be important beyond their usual vocation in alerting our companions to how educated we are. Take a look at the difference between the following expressions of a Bible passage (Isaiah, xl, 3):
“Comfort ye my people” (please go out and comfort my people)
“Comfort ye, my people” (just cheer up, you lot; it might never happen)
Doctrinal differences, indeed. I don’t think I had many doctrinal differences with Truss; she keeps it pretty simple. There are five chapters dealing with punctuation marks themselves: the comma, the apostrophe and the sub-editor’s nightmare, the hyphen, each get a chapter of its own; while the colon and semicolon share a chapter (in which Truss ashamedly entrusts us with an anecdote about her 14-year-old self trying to intellectually best an American penpal by using the word ‘desultory’, as well as throwing a colon in for good measure). A fourth chapter brings these guys: ! ? ‘ together with the dash and italics.
It’s really entertaining, and classic ‘I’m learning, but I’m having too much fun to realise I’m learning!’ stuff. Truss’s examples of how punctuation can finely mould the meaning of strings of words are often hilarious, and they’re also balanced with the recognition that once you’ve got all the rules down pat, you can kind of fling them away in a judicious manner if the flinging-away serves to make your writing more tasty.
Worth noting is the fact that this is a British book, and for reasons I’ve previously discussed (also strenously and disapprovingly pointed out by Louis Menand in his review for The New Yorker here) Eats, Shoots and Leaves is relevant only to the practice of British writers. It’s okay for Australians too, as we’re fairly British-leaning and non-standardised in our punctuation usage. Some of Menand’s, uh, crispy comments:

The supreme peculiarity of this peculiar publishing phenomenon is that the British are less rigid about punctuation and related matters, such as footnote and bibliographic form, than Americans are. An Englishwoman lecturing Americans on semicolons is a little like an American lecturing the French on sauces. Some of Truss’s departures from punctuation norms are just British laxness. In a book that pretends to be all about firmness, though, this is not a good excuse. The main rule in grammatical form is to stick to whatever rules you start out with, and the most objectionable thing about Truss’s writing is its inconsistency. Either Truss needed a copy editor or her copy editor needed a copy editor. Still, the book has been a No. 1 best-seller in both England and the United States.

Oh dear – maybe he knew the American penpal. It’s true that there are trip-ups in the book, and it’s true that the book isn’t really a style manual: it’s more of a researched monologic extravaganza. But I’m okay with that, for some reason. It’s really fun. But the one thing I did not like was the final chapter, which bemoans the impending ‘intellectual impoverishment’ we invite if we allow ‘proper’ punctuation to go the way of the dodo because of swifter, less considered communications on the internet. This kind of talk has dated horribly since 2003, and there’s a cringeworthy section in which Truss ridicules emoticons. This part is overlong, lecturey and therefore a bit boring – it could be revised or cut out for future editions. Also, I happen not to agree with most of her assertions, and the niche-filling weight of now widespread e-conventions makes her rant look a bit silly.
Time to wind this bad boy up. In a nutshell: basic, super fun, not without its faults, but I’d date it.

When someone asks you what you are reading, and you so cheerfully tell them it is a history of the Oxford English Dictionary, it is unlikely that their response will be very animated. Unless, of course, it is a person who has already read The Meaning of Everything by Simon Winchester, because such a person will know that it is a seriously good book. Hold your head high against those who would pigeonhole you (‘Nerd. Nerrrrrd. NERD NERD NERD NERD NERD’ etc.) because Winchester is a cheeky writer with a dashing feel for historical narrative; and, in fact, a few of the chaps involved in the compilation of the OED were a bit cheeky too. I was pretty ready to enjoy this book, in any case, as the Shorter OED is my dictionary of choice. Its authority derives from stylish, succinct, impeccably researched, absolute coverage of the English language: essential reference material for any avowed philologist.
I love reading about British men from days of yore. There’s something about them – swanning around in boating caps, tapping their pens on the edges of inkhorns, and positively swimming in money and learning and propriety – that I find hilarious. Don’t pretend that a historical period when the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths was alive and kicking wouldn’t have been pretty dandy. If someone were to ask me which historical era I would like to visit, 1800s England would definitely under consideration, because making sure I was using the correct spoon to eat watermelon, tatting lace and learning Latin all sound like my idea of a good time. Wait, now I’m not sure if I’m still being facetious. But take it from me; the cover of this book, featuring an image of a smiling real-life Dumbledore (it’s one-time OED editor Frederick Furnivall – great name, right?) doesn’t promise anything it can’t deliver: books, old white men, snarky letters, filing arrangements, murderers, and people so learned as to make good old Ben Naparstek seem like a bit of an underachiever. Example: It was said that Henry Bradley, senior editor of the OED from 1896, learned Russian in a matter of 14 days, ‘with no help but the alphabet and a knowledge of the principles of Indo-Germanic philology.’
When the OED was but a dream in the learned ether, Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language was the British gold standard of word-reference books, while in America, Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language reigned supreme. (It was actually very popular in Britain, too.) Winchester’s exposition is fantastic: a brief, fascinating history of the English language is followed by a discussion of the philosophical niceties relating to the enterprise of creating a dictionary – should such a book be conservative, forbidding usages other than those fixed therein; or should a dictionary’s steering team acknowledge the unparalleled fluidity of the English language, which grows and feeds greedily upon various sources, unlike the tightly controlled lexical glaciers of Italy and France?
Winchester has an eye for illuminating trivia that make history come alive. He points out that the first English-only dictionary (dictionaries produced before 1604 were predominantly compiled for translation purposes) was collated to feature short meanings of plain words ‘for the benefit and helpe of Ladies, Gentlewomen, or any other unskilfull persons’. Yeah – my unskilfull lady-self feels so benefited that I think I will vomit. Yet he also fleshes out the trials of the OED’s construction, including the exponentially growing resources pumped into it by Oxford University and other benefactors: the original estimate for the dictionary’s completion was 10 years and £9000; but it took 54 years and cost £300,000. Wisely, Winchester leads us through the dictionary’s tale by concentrating on some of the key figures in its production – the first three editors: sickly Herbert Coleridge (grandson of the poet), Furnivall (who had a penchant for very young ladies, and started an all-female sculling team) and stern draper’s son and school-leaver James Murray, who saw the dictionary almost through to completion.

There is nothing dry or boring about The Meaning of Everything. Story-wise, it’s wonderful: the OED was on the brink of being discontinued several times, and though the battles framing its completion were all eventually won, it’s scary for language tragics to contemplate what might not have been. In addition to putting the facts and figures of the OED on record, this history of what is now considered the most comprehensive, definitive record of the English language raises questions about how the language was and is formed, created and democratised. Language, equally integral to daily life as it is to matters of great abstraction and complexity, is often taken for granted, and The Meaning of Everything engagingly tells of the immense effort and foresight poured into what is one of the greatest literary enterprises known to the anglophone world.

Uh-oh. I’ve been outed as ‘a dog person’.

I bought The Elements of Style at the RMIT bookshop a little while back, sucked in by the morose basset hound on the front. I don’t live under a rock, so I’d heard of the book, and was curious about its take on the do’s and don’ts of the English language. My go-to style guy is Henry Dubya Fowler, but I thought my horizons could do with a little expanding.

While I was amongst it, as they say, I came across this article, 50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice, by Geoffrey Pullum, co-author of the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (via The Mumpsimus). From the title, you will be able to guess that Pullum doesn’t think ‘pon this little book with approval. In fact, he says that the authors are ‘grammatical incompetents’, Strunk having ‘very little analytical understanding of syntax, White even less’. Ouch. I had noticed a few things that perturbed me, particularly over-rigid and outdated rules such as the exhortation not to start a sentence with ‘however’ when the meaning is ‘nevertheless’. Er, doesn’t everyone do that? Pullum agrees. He declares the advice in The Elements of Style anything from ‘sensible’ to ‘toxic’.

Some wisdom can be had from this book, especially for those like me whose education did not explicitly deal with the rudiments of grammar and style. (Is it just me, or is the Australian educational system a bit hands-off with those aspects of writing?) The authors counsel the writer to ‘omit needless words’, an oft-heard dictum which blessedly rings in my own ears from time to time, perhaps not often enough. The Elements of Style is also entertaining, an artifact recalling a grumpy professor who had probably corrected one too many crappy essays. For example, Rule 21 urges the unknowing to ensure that summaries are written in the same tense throughout. The authors plaintively disparage useless generalisations:

Facility: Why must jails, hospitals, and schools suddenly become “facilities”?

Yet, as with any book spawned by human beings with proclivities and their opposities, readers should be wary of taking the rules as gospel. Some of the rules are specific to a geographical usage area, such as S&W’s US-flavoured preference for the serial comma (the comma appearing before the ‘and’ separating the final item in a list, as in: ‘She ate apples, cakes, and radishes.’) and veteran language mavens will find some of the rules gratingly basic. Other times, the authors distill their irritation into rules that are unforgivably misformed. Take the explanatory section expanding on rule 22: ‘Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end.’ Fine, except that halfway through this section appears the somewhat silly assertion: ‘The other prominent position in the sentence is the beginning.’

I’m in two minds about this book. On the one hand, The Elements of Style is a fascinating cult book, and certainly you can learn something from its pages. Actually, it’s not so cult: have you ever wondered why your Microsoft Word document has so many goddamn green zigzag lines through it? You’re probably using too much passive language, one of the S&W bugbears. But as a reference, I don’t recommend it, particularly for an Australian/British English writer. Its reasonable advice can be easily found elsewhere, and its deleterious propositions have actually muddled in my head with other, more legitimate fodder. It’s not particularly comprehensive, either, and non-US writers are better off picking a guide that is more appropriate to their writing region.

As I mentioned earlier, my bet for stylistic curmudgeon is Fowler, even as somewhat tempered by Burchfield. Pam Peters’ The Cambridge Guide to Australian English Usage is an up-to-date, non-prescriptivist behemoth for antipodean enthusiasts. For US writers, The Mumpsimus recommends Huddleston & Pullum’s A Student’s Introduction to English Grammar, Harper’s English Grammar by John Opdycke, Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage and Patterns of English by Paul Roberts. If anyone out there champions any other Australian/British English usage guides, I’d love to hear what they are.