Is the Next Nobel Laureate in Literature Tending Bar in a Dusty Australian Town?
Goroke, Victoria, a former stagecoach stop in southeastern Australia, pop. 200, is not the sort of place you would expect to host a daylong academic symposium. About five hours from Melbourne by car, the town has the feel of an evacuation nearly complete. Empty storefronts line the main street; the local pub closed two years ago. Drive a few minutes outside Goroke, and the only signs of life arrive at dusk, when the kangaroos emerge from the brush to stare down passers-by from the edge of the road. But last December, about 40 scholars, critics, editors and general readers made the journey for a series of lectures on the work of Gerald Murnane. The author, who has lived in Goroke for the last decade, prefers not to travel, and he had suggested the scholars convene at the local golf club, where he plays a weekly game and also regularly tends bar.
I become confused, or even distressed, whenever I find myself among streets or roads that are not arranged in a rectangular grid. ... I have watched few films during my lifetime and hardly any in recent years. ... I cannot recall having gone voluntarily into any art gallery or museum or building said to be of historic interest. I have never worn sunglasses. I have never learned to swim. I have never voluntarily immersed myself in any sea or stream. ... I have never touched any button or switch or working part of any computer or fax machine or mobile telephone. I have never learned to operate any sort of camera. ... In 1979 I taught myself to type using the index finger of my right hand alone. Since then, I have composed all my fiction and other writing using the finger just mentioned and one or another of my three manual typewriters.
the chief event of the afternoon might have been his sitting down beside me on a hilltop, taking out of his trousers pocket the folded form-guide from The Age, pointing to a certain name among the fields of horses, and then fiddling with his wireless until I was just able to hear, above the crackle of static and the buzzing of insects in the grass, the call of a race more than a hundred miles away with the horse that my uncle had brought to my notice in the thick of the finish.
Murnane, Catherine MaryB. Albury, NSW 31-5-1937D. Heidelberg, Vic 19-2-2009