Backchat: Border Districts and Collected Short Fiction

Splice publishes new content on Mondays and Wednesdays, but throughout the week we bulk it out with bonus material on Facebook and Twitter. On Fridays, “Backchat” looks at the week that was and gathers up all the bonus material in one place.

Gerald Murnane, Border Districts (Giramondo)

Gerald Murnane, Border Districts.
Giramondo Publishing. $24.95.
Buy direct from the publisher.

This week on Splice, we focused entirely on the work of Gerald Murnane. Tristan Foster reviewed Murnane’s final novel, Border Districts, which was published late last year in Australia and this week in the United States, and Daniel Davis Wood reviewed his Collected Short Fiction, which was published in both countries on Wednesday.

We also featured a brief excerpt from Border Districts and an extended excerpt from “Stone Quarry”, one of the pieces in Collected Short Fiction, courtesy of Murnane’s Australian publishers at Giramondo. If those aren’t enough for you, you’ll find a longer excerpt from Border Districts and the complete text of the story ‘When the Mice Failed to Arrive’ at the website of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Murnane’s American publishers.

Gerald Murnane, Collected Short Fiction (Giramondo)

Gerald Murnane,
Collected Short Fiction.
Giramondo Publishing. $34.95.
Buy direct from the publisher.

And, throughout the week, we burned up Twitter with links to loads of Murnane content elsewhere on the web. If you’re new to Murnane, a couple of good places to start are Emmett Stinson’s recent overview of his career for The Guardian and Mark Binelli’s long, generous profile of Murnane, published last week in the New York Times. You’ll also want to watch the documentary Mental Places, a conversation with Murnane produced by his longtime champion at Giramondo, Ivor Indyk, and freely available on YouTube. And you’ll want to follow this up by tracking down some of the recommended reading on Giramondo’s online material relating to Murnane’s work.

There’s more. Just before Christmas, academics and Murnane aficionados descended on the small town of Goroke, Victoria, where Murnane now lives, to attend the first international conference on his body of work. Murnane himself was there, too, to delivered the keynote address, which you can read at the Sydney Review of Books. You’ll find eyewitness accounts of the event by Tristan Foster in the Paris Review and by Blair Mahoney at Medium. And thanks to the efforts of the Writing and Society Research Centre at the University of Western Sydney, you can view a selection of the presentations at Vimeo:

There were a couple of forerunners to all this hubbub in Goroke. The most recent was of course Shannon Burns’ visit to Goroke in 2015; he detailed his encounter with Murnane for the Australian Review of Books (subscription required) and later reflected on the experience in the Sydney Review of Books. Prior to that, in 2012, Will Heyward visited Murnane at home and interviewed him in his car; the interview appeared in Music & Literature in 2013 and then, in the wake of Burns’ ABR profile, Heyward recalled the oddity of the interview in a short piece published by the Paris Review.

Now let’s give the last few words to Murnane himself. He, too, contributed to Music & Literature in 2013, offering previously unprecedented access to his personal archives: you can find his typewritten notes at the Music & Literature website. Then, a year later, he took The Writing Room on a guided tour through the archives. More recently, upon the republication of Landscape With Landscape in 2016, he reflected on the course of his career and the critical reception of his earlier books, and, finally, in an essay that speaks directly to one of the more noticeable features of his work, Murnane wrote at length in praise of long sentences.

That’s all for this week! Next week we’ll be bringing more reviews of recent books, with a focus on Jesse Ball’s new novel Census. Follow Splice on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with everything as it unfolds…