Gerald Murnane Interview

barley_patch.jpg    Probably best known for his haunting novella, The Plains, Gerald Murane has published rather few volumes of fiction - about 7 in a 35 year writing career - and none since Emerald Blue in 1995.

Murnane was awarded the Patrick White Award in 1999 and was given an Australia Council emeritus award in 2008.

Now he has released Barley Patch from Giramondo Publishing and he has been interviewed by Simon Caterson of "The Australian".

Murnane uses fiction to reach for a truth beyond simple storytelling. Barley Patch is a book about another, more perfect book never destined to be written, one, perhaps, that is ultimately impossible to create. It is like a big, polished stone thrown into the babbling brook of ordinary novels.

"Must I write?" is a question the author says he has pondered for decades. "I have several times, not in sadness or despair, just given up writing fiction," he says. "The main reason (is) that I didn't have anything important to say. Several times from the 1990s I would say, 'That's it, I've written enough.' "

Murnane disarmingly concedes he has had a "chequered" career, often switching publishers and producing books that attracted international and scholarly attention, especially in Sweden and Germany, but didn't make him much money.

He says his current publisher, Ivor Indyk, has revived his writing career. Indyk's imprint, Giramondo Press, republished Murnane's first book, Tamarisk Row, in 2008, together with an essay collection Invisible Yet Enduring Lilacs.

Barley Patch is his first new full-length work of fiction since 1995, and he is relishing the freedom he now has with Giramondo. "Given the impossible chance to do things differently, I wouldn't have tried so hard in earlier years to write long books or short pieces; I would have allowed things to take their own shape and their own length. Of course, the publishers would not have indulged me when I was younger the way Ivor has."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on October 5, 2009 10:31 AM.

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