cover image Stream System: The Collected Short Fiction of Gerald Murnane

Stream System: The Collected Short Fiction of Gerald Murnane

Gerald Murnane. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $18 trade paper (560p) ISBN 978-0-374-12600-1

This impressive collection represents a monumental achievement from one of Australia’s most important writers. Murnane is often categorized as a “writer’s writer” for his tendency to unspool long descriptions and focus his narratives on fiction writers strikingly similar to himself. Almost all of the stories in this book are set in a suburb of Melbourne and in some way involve the impact of memory, horse racing, or Catholicism. Of the 21 stories collected here, “Emerald Blue” is the longest. In it, “the chief character” of the story is a man who can only fall in love with the image of a woman in his mind, despite his many attempts to shun bachelorhood. In “The Boy’s Name Was David,” Murnane writes of a part-time writing professor who looks back on all the students’ stories he has ever read and imagines his competitive students as horses in one long race. Virtually all of Murnane’s stories also illustrate some aspect of his beliefs about the nature and value of fiction itself. Murnane is an accomplished master, and this collection is a vital resource for writing that probes the mind with ceaseless inquiry. (Apr.)