“Such are the perfections of fiction...Everything it teaches is useless insofar as structuring your life: you can’t prop up anything with fiction. It, in fact, teaches you just that. That in order to attempt to employ its specific wisdom is a sign of madness...There is more profit in an hour’s talk with Billy Graham than in a reading of Joyce. Graham might conceivably make you sick, so that you might move, go somewhere to get well. But Joyce just sends you out into the street, where the world goes on, solid as a bus. If you met Joyce and said 'Help me,' he’d hand you a copy of Finnegans Wake. You could both cry.” – Gilbert Sorrentino, Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things

Monday, January 2, 2012

Gerald Murnane's New Novel

So, according to an annual list published by the Fairfax papers here in Australia, Gerald Murnane's new novel, entitled A History of Books, is due out in June of 2011. It's still not listed on his publisher's website, but Murnane did speak about the book in a 2009 interview with the ABC, although his description is typically enigmatic: "I suppose this is getting outside the scope of our interview, but I'm very much aware and very proud of myself for having completed recently a 30,000-word novella called A History of Books. And I couldn't have written that if I hadn't first written Barley Patch because the whole subject of A History of Books is what we're talking about, and if you...well, please God you will eventually read that and you will be given far more on the subject, that this narrator, this self-examining, self-probing narrator, goes deeply into the matter of...and in fact memories from one book invade and mingle with memories from another, so that his mind seems to consist of very little else but this...call it a world, made up of these images that arose. They weren't sometimes even reported or described in the text but they arose while the reading took place."


Anonymous said...

That's the one title from the Fairfax list that caught my eye, too. For what it's worth, Murnane elaborated on A History of Books (as it now seems to be titled) at the Melbourne Writers Festival in 2010. I wrote a recap on my blog at the time, but here's a copy-paste of my notes on the relevant portion of the discussion:

[begin quote]

Murnane... name[d] In Search of Lost Time as his favourite work of fiction and Proust as one of only three writers from whose work he can still recall specific scenes, passages, and ideas. The other two writers, he continued, were Richard Jefferies and George Borrow, whose writings he is currently re-reading, and drawing on, as he goes about writing a new work of fiction.

On that note, Murnane revealed that he has not one but two new works of fiction in the pipeline: a completed novella, 30,000 words in length, entitled A World of Books, and a novel currently half-finished entitled Border Districts. Of the first book, Murnane said very little except that it is indeed a work of fiction despite the title, and that it will elaborate on the passage in Barley Patch in which the narrator notes that all people and objects in any work of literature are no more than images in the mind of the writer and contends that there is no point in pretending otherwise. Of the second book, Murnane stressed that the title has nothing to do with the contents -- he simply enjoys the sound of the words "border districts," which he took from the name of a local football team in the region of rural Victoria that he currently calls home. He added that the book will have something to do with the interplay between religious fidelity and iconography -- that is, spiritual devotion as expressed through stained-glass imagery -- and that in writing it he has found himself concentrating on the contrast between his own "non-materialist atheism" and the reverent faith of his brother who serves as a priest.

[end quote]

So unless A History of Books conflates those two projects, we can expect at least one more novel from Murnane after June...

Emmett Stinson said...

Thanks for that, Daniel--that's brilliant news!

Johnnywalkitoff said...

Thanks Emmett and Daniel. This is great news (I discovered Murnane this year and I am so grateful to have done so...still trying to find copies in the U.S. of Emerald Blue and Velvet Waters). I really thought Barely Patch would be his final work.

Anonymous said...

Oh shit yeah!

Anonymous said...

News for you chaps. A History of Books definitely to be released in May 2012 by Giramondo Publishers in Australia. And, yes, there's more...Suggest contact Giramondo for details.

Emmett Stinson said...

Yes, I spoke to Ivor at a conference in February and he told me that and that the book is a novella, accompanied by three shorter pieces as well. All of the info is up on the Giramondo site now:

Post a Comment