My Brother Jack at fifty

The novel begins with the burnished quality of something handed down through generations, its opening lines like the first breath of a myth. Seductive in tone and concision, charged with an  aura of enchantment, the early paragraphs of George Johnston’s My Brother Jack (1964) do more than merely lure the reader into the narrative. In these sentences, Johnston reveals the conviction and control of a master storyteller who, at the outset, establishes his ambition and literary lineage:

My brother Jack does not come into the story straight away. Nobody ever does, of course, because a person doesn’t begin to exist without parents and an environment and legendary tales told about ancestors and dark dusty vines growing over outhouses where remarkable insects might always drop out of hidden crevices.

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Published in August 2014 no. 363

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