Brian Castro Interview

Brian Castro's latest novel, The Bath Fugues, has just been published by Giramonda and the author is interviewed in "The Australian" by Miriam Cosic.

The very act of writing, he says, is fugue-like. "I'm doing counterpoint all the time: argumentation within myself, and then flying off into animaginative fantasy and coming back to thereality." Yet he says, with hindsight: "I think this is one of my most disciplined books. I wasn't conscious of it at the time but putting it into this form is a discipline."

The idea of the fugueur tempts him as a novelist, he says, not as a man. "As a novelist, the best moment is to be in flight from the real world so that you can actually write," he says. "I like living in that moment."


He took his undergraduate degree in French literature at the University of Sydney, his master's in American literature. Living and teaching in Paris for a year had a huge effect on him: "It changed my view of writers, of how they can be respected. You come back to Australia and they say, 'Aw, whaddya write?' 'Aw, do ya make a living out of it?"' He mimics a drawling accent. "It's so crude."

Castro's irritation with his own country's anti-intellectualism has spilled out before. When he took the manuscript of Shanghai Dancing to publishers, even those who had published him before, he was told to tone it back -- dumb it down, he would say -- and he refused. And made a fuss about it in public.

He was saved by Ivor Indyk, publisher of Giramondo Press, who is as intellectually uncompromising as he is. Shanghai Dancing was published unchanged and, vindicating writer and publisher, went on to win prizes and sell respectably enough. It's still in print, unusual in these times when unsold books are cleared out and remaindered within months of publication.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on June 18, 2009 9:41 AM.

The Text Prize for Young Adult & Children's Writing was the previous entry in this blog.

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