Skip to content

April 21, 2019


#NSW Premier’s Award shortlist Gerald Murnane

by N@ncy

  • Author: Gerald Murnane
  • Title: Border Districts
  • Published: 2017 (GiramondoBooks)
  • Published 2019: (And Other Stories)
  • Trivia: 2019 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards shortlist
  • Trivia: 2018 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards winner
  • Trivia: 2018 ALS Gold Medal shortlist
  • Trivia: 2018 Miles Franklin Award shortlist
  • Trivia: 2018 Voss Literary Prize longlist
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • @NSW_PLA
  • @GiramondoBooks
  • @andothertweets



  1. This is one of the most difficult books to review.
  2. Initially I was tempted to close the book
  3. …after the first 20-30 pages.
  4. Murnane’s thoughts rambled on and on and
  5. …I just did not see the point.
  6. Then something happened.
  7. Words, phrases kept being repeated.
  8. I thought if I found the words that are most prominent in the
  9. narrative…this could guide me into finding a theme.
  10. coloured 80x – glass 109x – window(s) 78x – house 134x.
  11. I tried to find the meaning of:
  12. Window spaces (empty) = sightless people blind to the truth
  13. Window spaces (stained glass, leadlight glass) =
  14. people who have gathered in their life pieces of glass with
  15. …distortions and colors (like Murnane).
  16. They see reality  that has been modified.
  17. Murnane calls it  looking at things with
  18. …”a subtly different tint”  this “wavering richness”.
  19. Murnane reveals:
  20. “I consider myself a student of colours, and shades and hues and tints.”
  21. It seems Murnane is telling us how
  22. his coloured panes of glass (stained glass)
  23. shaded the veranda in his  mind.


Last thoughts:

  1. This is not an easy read.
  2. But great books are not meant to be easy!
  3. You must be prepared to go with the
  4. narrative flow even if you think
  5. …it is just going around in circles
  6. It is….but Murnane does have a purpose.
  7. Murnane wants us to be aware of the colors
  8. and distortions we are looking through!
  9. How we look at things makes all the difference
  10. Look at the glass from the sides of your eyes
  11. “…this has taught me more than gazing or staring.”
  12. Introspective books with self-examing characteristics
  13.  do not always win a prestigious prize in the literary world.
  14. But this book does deserve awards for its
  15. ..innovative contemporary writing.
9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Apr 21 2019

    I’ve only read one Murnane so far (The Plains), but it was such a profound literary experience that I’m curious to see if he can repeat it – from everything I’ve read (including your review) indicates that he will.


    • Apr 21 2019

      PS I’m glad you were able to get into the flow of his writing, it’s not easy, but worth the effort I feel. There’s a real sense of having gone along for an epic journey and really got inside someone’s head space/world view.


      • Apr 21 2019

        I think as The Australian Legend blog Bill Holloway described it ..that helped me to continue reading. It is not the story ….but the way it was written…that is so impressive.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Apr 21 2019

      Once I learned to “listen in” on a character’s thoughts…then I was able to read on.
      Murnane replicates the complicated pathways that
      our thoughts take as they unfold and move through the mind.
      Amazing….reading experience, indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. May 7 2019

    I’ve read The plains, and his memoir Something for the turf. Reading The plains was like you’ve described here. You just have to keep reading and let it settle over you. There’s something mesmerising about him, really, and his books aren’t long!! I have Border districts here – now I just have to find time to read it.


    • May 7 2019

      Profound books are reading experiences….just as Brona said.
      There is no other way to describe them. Murnane’s book Border Districts was also an example.
      You have to be in the right mindset to read it….ready to do some thinking.
      I haven’t read Les Murray yet…..but I expect that to be a real challenge….think-wise!


  3. May 8 2019

    Les Murray may need some extra help…G&T sounds perfect.
    Les would approrve, I think!



Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. #NSW Premier’s Award 2019 shortlist – read-a-thon! | NancyElin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: