Ruth and I are snowed in. We were in the path of the great Northwestern snow dump. I have had time to watch old movies and read. Snow is in the forecast for tomorrow and next weekend. The book I chose to dive into instead of having cabin fever is one I bought in Australia, “The Collected Short Fiction” of Gerald Murnane. According to many sources, Murnane is the best living fiction writer the world has never heard of. The august New York Times called him “…one of the greatest living English language writers,” when he was rumored to win the Nobel Prize for literature. He didn’t win because this particular Nobel prize was cancelled in 2018. Murnane is frequently up for this award.
Gerald Murnane has written 13 books, has a cult following, and is said to be deeply eccentric. His books are always part fiction and part autobiography. The flow of his language seems ordinary, some would say dull, as he deals with disturbing topics like loneliness and marital failure. Readers either tend to love or hate his writing. He does seem to repeat himself a lot, but I haven’t read enough yet to join either side.
Gerald Murnane lives in Goroke, Victoria, Australia, a rural town of 623 people. He’s secretary of the local golf club and has never left Australia. He has not travelled much but seems to know Melbourne and that part of his country very well. I decided to write about him when he was speculating about Romania in the short story “There Were Some Places”. He said about Romania, “For the best of my own insights had been obtained from places I never expect to visit.” I found that curious and began thinking about the places I have almost visited, like Romania, but have not yet been to and may never see. This list is growing. I have almost been to Brazil, Greenland, Bhutan, etc. If reading about a place is as good as going there, I’ve been to all three. Hmmmmmmmmm.