Last Letters to a Reader
Final work by internationally acclaimed Australian author Gerald Murnane, reflecting on his career as a writer, and the fifteen books which have led critics to praise him as ‘a genius on the level of Beckett’.
A book which will appeal equally to Murnane’s legion of fans, and to those new to his work, attracted by his reputation as a truly original Australian writer. In the first days of spring in his eighty-second year, Gerald Murnane began a project which would round off his career as a writer – he would read all of his books in turn and prepare a report on each. His original intention was to lodge the reports in two of his legendary archives, the Chronological Archive, which documents his life as a whole, and the Literary Archive, which is devoted to everything he has written. But as the reports grew, they themselves took on the form of a book, Last Letter to a Reader. The essays on each of his works travel through the capacious territory Murnane refers to as his mind: they dwell on the circumstances which gave rise to the writing, images, associations, reflections on the theory of fiction, and memories of a deeply personal kind. The final essay is on Last Letter to a Reader itself: it considers the elation and exhilaration which accompany the act of writing, and offers a moving ending to what must surely be his last work as death approaches.
‘Help me, dear one, to endure patiently my going back to my own sort of heaven.’
‘No living Australian writer, not even Les Murray, has higher claims to permanence or a richer sense of distinction’ — Sydney Morning Herald
‘The emotional conviction…is so intense, the somber lyricism so moving, the intelligence behind the chiseled sentences so undeniable, that we suspend all disbelief.’ — J.M. Coetzee