cover image A Million Windows

A Million Windows

Gerald Murnane. Godine, $18.95 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-56792-555-5

Part memoir and part manifesto, Australian writer Murnane's series of fictional and essayistic experiments requires careful consideration and study. The premise of the book extends from the Henry James epigraph that opens it: "The house of fiction has in short not one window, but a million." Murnane walks readers through several of his distinctive touchstones of writing, and he illustrates his arguments with multiple vignettes and fictional scenarios. Murnane is brooding and deeply serious about his subject matter. He ruminates on the effects of memory by writing variations of a story in which a man sees a young girl on a train. The encounter opens a door of possibility, and Murnane wants the reader to realize that this story could ultimately be written "in any of a million ways." He often writes in lengthy, spiraling sentences and is prone to making broad pronouncements such as "One of the many devices employed by writers of fiction is the use of the present tense." Murnane frequently contrasts the abilities of fiction with those of film%E2%80%94to the detriment of film. Murnane is a master of breathing life into fiction, and his compilation of ideas on the subject holds immense value because those ideas are often so idiosyncratic and contrarian. (May)