A bittersweet farewell to the world and the word by the Australian master
“The mind is a place best viewed from borderlands . . .”
Border Districts, purportedly the Australian master Gerald Murnane’s final work of fiction, is a hypnotic, precise, and self-lacerating “report” on a life led as an avid reader, fumbling lover, “student of mental imagery,” and devout believer—but a believer not in the commonplaces of religion, but rather in the luminescence of memory and its handmaiden, literature.
In Border Districts, a man moves from a capital city to a remote town in the border country, where he intends to spend the last years of his life. It is time, he thinks, to review the spoils of a lifetime of seeing, a lifetime of reading. Which sights, which people, which books, fictional characters, turns of phrase, and lines of verse will survive into the twilight? A dark-haired woman with a wistful expression? An ancestral house in the grasslands? The colors in translucent panes of glass, in marbles and goldfish and racing silks? Feeling an increasing urgency to put his mental landscape in order, the man sets to work cataloging this treasure, little knowing where his “report” will lead and what secrets will be brought to light.
Border Districts is a jewel of a farewell from one of the greatest living writers of English prose.
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The Collected Short Fiction of Gerald Murnane
Stories from a mind-bending Australian master, “a genius on the level of Beckett” (Teju Cole)
Never before available to readers in this hemisphere, these stories—originally published from 1985 to 2012—offer an irresistible compendium of the work of one of contemporary fiction’s greatest magicians.
While the Australian master Gerald Murnane’s reputation rests largely on his longer works of fiction, his short stories stand among the most brilliant and idiosyncratic uses of the form since Borges, Beckett, and Nabokov. Brutal, comic, obscene, and crystalline, Stream System runs from the haunting “Land Deal,” which imagines the colonization of Australia and the ultimate vengeance of its indigenous people as a series of nested dreams; to “Finger Web,” which tells a quietly terrifying, fractal tale of the scars of war and the roots of misogyny; to “The Interior of Gaaldine,” which finds its anxious protagonist stranded beyond the limits of fiction itself.
No one else writes like Murnane, and there are few other authors alive still capable of changing how—and why—we read.
Gerald Murnane was born in Melbourne in 1939. One of Australia’s most highly regarded authors, he has published ten volumes of fiction, including Barley Patch, The Plains, and A Million Windows, as well a collection of essays, Invisible Yet Enduring Lilacs, and a memoir, Something for the Pain. He is a recipient of the Patrick White Literary Award, the Melbourne Prize for Literature, and an Emeritus Fellowship from the Literature Board of the Australia Council. He lives in Victoria, Australia.