‘I always dreamed that I would read a book that would be absolutely everything that I’ve wanted, and because I didn’t find that book, I wrote it myself. I don’t mean one particular book. I mean my collected works.’
Gerald Murnane (2015 interview)
There is a whiff of mythology about Gerald Murnane. He is quietly infamous for who he isn’t: for the things he’s never done (travel by aeroplane); the things he’ll never do (live outside of Victoria, wear sunglasses); the things he’ll never do again (watch movies or a Shakespeare play); the books he won’t read (contemporary fiction); the books he won’t write (interrogations of national identity); and the literary prizes he hasn’t won (almost all of them – much to critical incredulity). Australians often struggle with strangeness: we do not easily surrender to the unconventional, the wilfully eccentric, or the unapologetically clever. It’s hard to know what to do with a writer who is all three.