Stream System: The Collected Short Fiction of Gerald Murnane Paperback – 3 April 2018
MP3 CD, Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged
About the Author
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter mobile phone number.
- Publisher : Farrar, Straus and Giroux (3 April 2018)
- Language: : English
- Paperback : 560 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0374126003
- ISBN-13 : 978-0374126001
- Item Weight : 454 g
- Dimensions : 14.55 x 3.56 x 20.85 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #408,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Review this product
Top reviews from other countries
You get the sense that he is hyper-aware of the worlds he creates with words, and it's helpful to know a little of his biography when reading him. He's never been out of Australia, has never been on a plane, uses minimal technology, and plays memory games of his own invention where he lives alone in a remote town in Australia. The written world (or the dreamed world), for him, seems to be more real than the real world, and this comes out in his stories.
For instance, in "Land Deal" (great access point), he observes the inhumanity of a land grab from the perspective of a people wholly subjugated (if I say more I will spoil it). When considering how the exchange unfurls, he comments on the distinction between the possible and the actual. "The almost boundless scope of the possible was limited only by the occurrence of the actual . . . Almost anything was possible except, of course, the actual." To be honest, I don't fully understand what that means. But it's a theme recurring in his work, so I will have plenty of opportunity to figure it out.
On that note, be prepared for self-referential stories and recurring themes. Personally, I like this, because in a way you are learning Murnane's language and you will need to spend some time in it for the rewards.
Often recurring are meditations on the act of reading itself. Despite Murnane's personal and stylistic idiosyncrasies, he is keenly aware that reading is a collaborative act. Readers supplement the text and overcome its inherent limits with their own memories, breathing life into the stories we read with all sorts of details we gather in life.
For instance, (low-level spoiler alert) the story "Last Letter to a Niece" is about a man who can only form connections with people he encounters through the written word. Besides characters from books, he can only bond with his niece, and only because he has never met her. Their relationships exists entirely via letters, i.e., the written word or text. Though he occasionally ventures into "the real world" (and Murnane is skeptical of that classification - the world in his mind is at least as real what we call "the real world"), he ventures outward mainly to build up a stock of visions with which he can supplement and reify the characters he reads about in stories. Vital life exists in text just as much as in flesh.
Though some of his prose can be stultifying (see "Boy Blue," which opens "A few weeks ago, the person writing this story read aloud to a gathering of persons another story that he had written."), underlying just about everything he writes are compelling themes, like alcoholism, identity, and anxiety about being forgotten ("Precious Bane"), unemployment, poverty, and family stress ("Boy Blue"), and isolation and imagination ("Last Letter to a Niece"). You are not immersed in the world described as much as you are in Murnane's imagination. His precision is so rewarding in this regard. It's almost like technical writing, like he's giving directions to anyone who desires to recreate the worlds that occupy his mind. He is not primarily trying to convince you with verisimilitude, because oftentimes he wants you to know you are reading an account from his inner world - but he's such a good writer that you are still convinced the world you've entered is utterly true.
Here is an intellectual who shuns elitism and a writer who tests the boundaries of language's creative ability. This is my introduction to him and I'm really enjoying it.