Winner, Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, 2016
As a boy, Gerald Murnane became obsessed with horse racing. He had never ridden a horse, nor seen a race. Yet he was fascinated by photos of horse races in the Sporting Globe, and by the incantation of horses' names in radio broadcasts of races. Murnane discovered in these races more than he could find in religion or philosophy: they were the gateway to a world of imagination.
Gerald Murnane is like no other writer, and Something for the Pain is like no other Murnane book. In this unique and spellbinding memoir, he tells the story of his life through the lens of horse racing. It is candid, droll and moving—a treat for lovers of literature and of the turf.
Gerald Murnane was born in Melbourne in 1939. He has been a primary teacher, an editor and a university lecturer. His debut novel, Tamarisk Row (1974), was followed by nine other works of fiction, including The Plains now available as a Text Classic, and most recently A Million Windows. In 1999 Murnane won the Patrick White Award and in 2009 he won the Melbourne Prize for Literature. He lives in western Victoria.
‘Murnane, a genius, is a worthy heir to Beckett.’ Teju Cole
‘Murnane is a careful stylist and a slyly comic writer with large ideas.’ Robyn Cresswell, Paris Review
‘Murnane is quite simply one of the finest writers we have produced.’ Peter Craven
‘Unquestionably one of the most original writers working in Australia today.’ Australian
‘Something for the Pain is Gerald Murnane at his best. His meticulous exploration of his lifelong obsession with horse racing is by turns hilarious, moving and profound. If Australian writing were a horse race, Murnane would be the winner by three and a half lengths.’ Andy Griffiths
‘A marvellous book about horse racing, one of the best this country has produced. It is full of fast and loose stories and colourful characters…and lots of laughs.’ Stephen Romei, Australian
‘Something for the Pain bears testament to a lifelong obsession and further illustrates the breadth and depth of meaningfulness that Murnane can draw from a seemingly straightforward spectacle.’ Australian Book Review
‘Murnane is a writer of the greatest skill and tonal control. Reading his description of the death of a racehorse in the arms of its owner-trainer at Flemington racecourse, tears rolled down my cheeks: “The man put his arms around the horse’s neck and pressed his face against the horse’s head. The man went on lying there. The light rain went on falling.”’ Financial Times
‘An absolute gem. It's literary, lucid, full of love for horses and racing and full of the strange highly-ordered madness of Murnane, full of a selfless disclosure. It’s marvellous. Funny, moving, beautiful. A brilliant book.’ Jonathan Green, Radio National Books and Arts
‘Murnane recounts his life through his abiding obsession with horse racing. But you don’t have to care about horse racing—it’s the quality of the obsessed mind that matters.’ Ben Lerner, New Yorker
‘Yes, this is about Murnane’s lifelong obsession with horseracing, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a memoir that illuminates his deliberately unusual life and his exquisite fiction.’ Australian
‘Murnane’s books are strange and wonderful and nearly impossible to describe in a sentence or two…His later works are essayistic meditations on his own past, a personal mythology as attuned to the epic ordinariness of lost time as Proust, except with Murnane it’s horse races, a boyhood marble collection, Catholic sexual hang-ups and life as a househusband in the suburban Melbourne of the 1970s.’ New York Times