Gerald Murnane

Last Letter to a Reader

In the first days of spring in his eighty-second year, Gerald Murnane – perhaps the greatest living writer of English prose – began a project that would round off his strange career as a novelist. He would read all of his books in turn and prepare a report on each. His original intention was to lodge the reports in two of his legendary filing cabinets: in the Chronological Archive, which documents his life as a whole, and the Literary Archive, which is devoted to everything he has written.

As the reports grew, however, they themselves took on the form of a book, a book as beguiling and hallucinatory, in its way, as the works on which they were meant to report. These miniature memoirs or stories lead the reader through the capacious territory Murnane refers to as his mind: they dwell on the circumstances that gave rise to his writing, on images and associations, on Murnane’s own theories of fiction, and then memories of a deeply personal kind. The final essay is, of course, on Last Letter to a Reader itself: it considers the elation and exhilaration that accompany the act of writing, and offers a moving finale to what must surely be Murnane’s last work, as death approaches.

Read an Excerpt
Paperback: £11.99
EBook: £9.99
Format: B-format paperback
Publication date: 3 May 2022
ISBN: 9781913505424
Ebook ISBN: 9781913505431
Availability: World English exc ANZ


Dustin Illingworth
New York Times Book Review

‘When looking over the endless paddocks of his fictions, one is also looking out at the mysterious landscape of the soul.’

Shannon Burns
The Monthly

‘The best book about Murnane’s books that anyone is ever likely to write.’

Peter Craven
Australian Book Review

‘Has any writer ever paraded his aesthetic privacies so shamelessly? It doesn’t matter. These are the ravings of a genius. Ignore them if you dare, literature-besotted unraveller.’