Gerald Murnane talks about ‘The Barley Patch’

This week I finally got around to listening to Gerald Murnane talking about The Barley Patch, his first book for 14 years, from the ABC Book Show (October 12). It’s a fascinating insight into the intricate symbology of Murnane’s ‘fiction’: race colours, grasslands, the plains, marbles, meaning within meaning.

The conversation is still online at the ABC for downloading HERE


Gerald Murnane


As a long time fan of Murnane’s writing, I was pleased to read in the AGE today that he’d won the Melbourne Prize for Literature. His new novel, The Barley Patch, now heads my wishlist, or it would if it was listed on Amazon. For anyone yet to discover the strange and beautiful world of Murnane, you’re in for a treat.

Full AGE story HERE

Michael Epis AGE blog piece on Murnane’s new novel  HERE

The Red Highway


Another early (?) contender for my book of the year award, I just finished reading Nicolas Rothwell’s The Red Highway, a strange kind of disconnected personal journey into the heart of Australia, that grew on me the more I read it.

Sure, it’s ‘implausible’, and I had trouble figuring out whether I was framing this as fiction or non-fiction, but it’s not ‘implausible nonsense’ as one reviewer put it. There’s a range of viewpoints on the Crikey blogs HERE and a fairly positive review by Liam Davison in The Australian HERE, but some passages were wonderful.  I asked my daughter, who works at ‘Readings’ how I should categorise this and she didn’t hesitate: “Landscape Memoir”.  That’s my favourite category!

Marilynne Robinson’s ‘Home’

It’s always nice to be confirmed in your judgements by a committe of experts, so for that reason and more I was delighted to see that Marilynne Robinson’s Home, my own Book of the Year winner for 2008, has just won the Orange Prize for fiction.  It’s a wonderful book I say again, and some describe her as the greatest living novelist.

More here at the GUARDIAN

On the Road

Today’s AGE featured an article on the treasure trove of art, music and literary videos that you can find on youtube. I had a look at a few of them and this was my favourite; Jack Kerouac reading a kind of homage to On the Road one of my favourite books ever and reading it well, before it all went sad and pear-shaped.

You can read the AGE article HERE, but for some reason they’ve left out all the links to the movies, which were in the paper edition, and which is a little frustrating.  A quick search would probably find most of them.

My other favourites:

Nabokov discusses LOLITA

Plath reads from DADDY (audio only)

Solzhenitsyn, Dead at 89

Sad to hear today that Alexander Solzenhitsyn died today, aged 89. I’ve admired his work for a long time, since I studied One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich at school, and in my reading of his writing ever since.

I’ve read most of his work, including his gruelling potrayals of the Soviet gulag, and taught One Day in the Life.. to Year 11s as recently as last year.

I wouldn’t say he was a particularly poetic writer, and too political in temperament for me mostly. But at his best he grasped a moment in twentieth century history and showed us the truth of it.

More from the NY Times HERE

Disappearing Landscapes

I was pleased to hear this week that a photo-essay I wrote a while ago for Thylazine magazine, on the suburbanisation process on the Mornington Peninsula, has been picked up by an Irish website called The site says: aims to provide a focus for
information and discussion about the Slieve Aughty uplands in
Counties Clare and Galway in the west of Ireland. The site was
launched on Earth Day, April 22 2006 at a gathering in Crusheen
called Aughty People and Earth Day, hosted by Heritage
Inchicronan. People from around the region and further afield
explored ways in which the heritage of the Aughties could be
recorded, protected and enhanced by considering the region as
a whole.

At first I thought that the Irish site wanted to use an essay I wrote while in Ireland a few years ago, called Entering Irish Landscape, which talks about my impressions of that place. So, I was surprised, and pleased too, that they wanted to use my piece about suburban Australia,and that they saw some connection between the landscapes they’re working to celebrate and preserve and the landscapes around me here.

The original version of the essay, with photos is HERE. The direct link to a PDF version of the essay on the Irish site is HERE