Shannon Burns’s splendid ABR Patrons’ Fellowship essay, ‘The Scientist of His Own Experience: A Profile of Gerard Murnane’, is rich in insights and pithy observations, plus some rather fine photographs (August 2015). Much of it resonated for me, as Murnane’s first editor; this was soon after I had arrived at William Heinemann from Penguin, aeons ago.
When Gerald Murnane needed a publisher for his first novel, Tamarisk Row, Barry Oakley almost certainly suggested Heinemann because the managing director was John Burchall, a former bookseller, prodigious reader, and long luncher – and one of the few publishers passionate about original Australian writing. After one of those lunches, a fat brown paper parcel landed on my desk. Tamarisk Row immediately impressed me as an eccentric masterpiece, like nothing else.