|Reviews of Recent Publications|
THE DARK BETWEEN THE STARS
Cover by Warren Crossett
(Mandarin Australia, $12.95, 252pp, pb, March 1991)
Reviewed by Ian Nichols
There is always, I suppose, a question of audience. They are the readers, the receivers of the communication inherent in a text. Okay; come clean: how many of you have actually read Roland Barthes? Murray Goldsworthy? Seen Russell Drysdale's portrait of a rather plump and frumpy woman with a cart in the background? In other words, when Damien Broderick writes of how Drysdale has "painted her portrait into our dry, aching heritage," do you know what he's talking about? When he discusses the idea that "Roland Barthes, that wily French semiologist, knew a thing or two about mythologies" can you refer back to your reading of Barthes' Mythologies and share in the joke? Luckily, there are only two stories in this collection of ten which seem to be affected by some sort of desire to educate the reader, given the information in the foreword. The stories are fairly dire, but their forwards are just plain self indulgence.
The swag of stories is, as is usually the case, of mixed worth. One is superb, a few are interesting, two are somewhat self-congratulatory, one can be excused as a product of youth, and for one, I simply couldn't see what all the fuss was about. Let's start with that one.
"The Ballad of Bowsprit Bear's Stead" was the subject of much to and fro writing between Broderick and Joanna Russ, with various other notables, such as Ursula LeGuin and Samuel Delaney brought in to mediate. LeGuin bought it for an anthology, Russ objected, on the grounds that it was sexist, Broderick reacted, and a brawl ensued. When the dust had settled, the story was published, Russ told Broderick to injure himself, and the universe remained much the same. I mean, if it had been a really important story, there might have been some point to all the debate, but it's not. The story concerns Neanderthals and their magic powers, two robots who fuck, and the soul of a computer. It leans a little too heavily upon the ingenuousness of all concerned for my liking, and the style is somewhat arch, but it is readable, has a couple of interesting ideas. It is certainly not the worst story in the book.
The worst story in the book is "The Drover's Wife's Dog". This little exercise purports to explore the thoughts of the canine figure in Lawson's story. I think it's supposed to be funny, an example of Broderick's dry wit. For this reason it throws in the odd intertextual reference to Animal Farm, Roger McGough, Structuralism, and Uncle Tom Cobley and all. I feel that its audience may be somewhat limited.
A close second in the awfulness stakes is "The Writeable Text". The misadventures of Zoo, Aff, Ir and Heff in yuppie suburbia. God; the sooner we forget about the eighties, the better. It purports to have something to do with mythology. It reads like a reject script from The Young and the Restless.
"All My Yesterdays" is yet another story about what might have happened to Lazarus, had such a figure really existed. It's from very early in Broderick's career, and that shows. The image of the future is somewhat immature, to say the least, and embodies what might generously be considered some adolescent fantasies. A psychiatrist suggests "a stiff dose of fornication" as a cure, while he looked at "a voluptuously painted breast and chewed on a hashish stick." Must be something about Catholic repression of sexuality. As a treatment of the legend, it's not too bad, although one wonders, at the end, that Lazarus hasn't really learned from a couple of millenia of experience that it's difficult to outwit a vengeful god.
Five of the other six are good stories, competently written and inventive. At times, particularly in "A Tooth for Every Child", there is an element of remoteness, as if the author was writing at a distance from the subject, but that doesn't hinder the story. "Coming Back" is a waste of a very good idea, but entertaining enough in itself. "Thy Sting" has elements from an old Arthur C. Clarke story in it, but the treatment is fresh and different. "Resurrection" investigates what might happen to frozen people in a far future, but the treatment is an original one. "A Passage in Earth" is fun, and probably the most good-humoured story in the book, about a starship returning from the far reaches of the universe with all sorts of secret powers and a mission from god. I think the only problem I have with any of these stories is that of dialogue. In general, Broderick does not write dialogue very well, as though he writes the way that people ought to speak, rather than the way they do, or will.
The last story in the book, "The Magi", is by far the best, and it's worth it to buy the book just for this story. It is the tale of the discovery, on a planet far away, of an alien civilisation which has found god. It is also the story of a very believable inner conflict in the heart of one Father Raphael Silverman, Catholic priest and ex-jew. This story is everything which good SF should be, in that it takes us from where we are to share in what might be, and questions us about how we feel. Why it didn't win multiple awards, I don't know, but read it now. I think I liked it best because, out of all the stories in this book, it is the most human. At times, Broderick's dryness and coolness becomes aridity and coldness, but not with this story. No, not with this story.
Kim Stanley Robinson
Cover by Lee Gibbons
(Unwin Hyman, $29.95, 280pp, hc, November 1990)
Reviewed by Jeremy G Byrne
"They sat down again, leaned back against the warm rock
side by side, arms touching. A thick rain of light poured down
on them, knitting tightly with the onshore wind. Photon by photon,
striking and flaking off, filling the air so that everything -
the sea, the tall ships, the stone of the jetties, the green light
tower at the other jetty's end, the buoys clanging on the groundswell,
the long sand reach of the beach, the lifeguard stands and their
streaming flags, the pastel wrack of apartments, the palm fronds
swaying over it all - everything floated in a white light, an
aura of salt mist, ethereal in the photon rain. In every particulate
jot of being . . . Kevin settled back like a sleepy cat. "What
a day." And Ramona leaned over, black hair blinding as a
crow's wing, and kissed him."
Pacific Edge, page 118
There is a story - I forget who wrote it - called "The Ultimate Unselfish Wish". In a diabolically clever twist on the pact-with-the-devil chestnut, an altruistic antifaust confounds the Catch-22 nature of all such narratives with his carefully worded wish. To paraphrase; "Without any change to me or to my life, I wish I was the poorest, ugliest, nastiest and least happy individual in the world."
Wish-fulfilment of some description is an essential component of true literary utopias, and Kim Stanley Robinson's Pacific Edge is a picture of a fondest wish. Pacific Edge can only be fully appreciated as part of the Orange County Trilogy; The Wild Shore (1984), The Gold Coast (1988) and Pacific Edge (1990) - it's the ultimate development of the theme. In simplistic terms, the novels depict alternate realities, clay shaped by different hands, "Incarnations . . . following other lines." They share time and location in common - each is set in 2065, in or very near Southern California's Orange County, and certain sites cross over, such as the semi-magical, timeless Swing Canyon, where a rope hangs from a big, old tree for lovers to play, in retreat from their world - and they share a character in Tom Barnard, The Man Who Remembers How It Was, a living metaphor for his world in each of the books. Robinson's high-sounding theme, the interaction of society and setting, Man and Nature, develops quite unexpectedly into a full-blown utopian vision only in the final volume, and we see that (the cynic might say retrospectively) the other two novels stand as counterplot, although in each we see elements of the argument in evolution.
In essence, Pacific Edge is a novel about softball and bike riding, about wrangles over water supply and falling in love. Yet it's also about the Orange County town of El Moderna in 2065; Town Shares and Town Work, Applied Ecology, man-powered flight, political conflict between the Greens and the New Federalists, Environmental Impact Statements and the non-linear equations of population biology, incomes fixed between $10,000 and $100,000, a legal limit on company size, the complexities of riparian versus appropriative water law, everyday biotech, power lased from orbiting solar panels, the military industrial complex, that plays such a towering bugbear in The Gold Coast, redirected towards "survival problems" and thereby effectively defused, the diaspora from Greater Los Angeles out across the Mojave that has left reduced population density and even open space within the city itself, a whole town of genetically engineered sycamores inspired by the treehouse at Disneyland, and The Global Village a literal reality with every household linked via the everpresent TV to other, sister households around the world; "Everything everywhere" as the central character's globe-romping sister puts it.
Kevin Claiborne, Pacific Edge's own avatar of the trilogy's maturing meta-protagonist, is a "straightforward kind of guy", emotion-centred, for whom "to feel [is] to act". In his development through the trilogy, this central character sloughs off his adventurousness, his yearning to change his world and, as his weltangshauung contracts, becomes somehow wiser in his ingenuousness; quintessentially content. His world is, perhaps, not an "interesting time" in the Chinese sense, and it begets a people who are suitably at home in it. Yet the El Modernans are no Eloi; this is not, as Oscar, the town's new lawyer from Chicago, quotes of Marx, the "idiocy of rural life". Robinson's utopia is positive; an almost perfect foil for the posturing negativism of Cyberpunk - a movement whose public face at least is ferociously and despairingly dystopic. In Pacific Edge the corporate world has been effectively dismantled by the people in a simple evolution of the anti-monopoly legislation of more than a century before, and folks are just getting on with things, calmly and effectively.
The Gold Coast, though acclaimed and lauded, suffered at times from heavy-handed didacticism, a feature refreshingly absent from the more mature Pacific Edge. Even down to its odd, present-tense style, shouting "this is now!", the earlier novel came across as far less subtle. As well, like Dan Simmons, Robinson seems less at home with the traditional paraphernalia of SF - the techno-trappings you keep wishing he'd forget about and get back to the real stuff. The Gold Coast, by its very nature as a technical near-future, bore these sci-fi baubles heavily. Pacific Edge, in contrast, achieves its future feel with barely a rocketship or a videophone in sight. Instead, there's a pervasive sense of the kind of magic realism that makes Lucius Shepard and occasionally graces Simmons' work. Indian hill-spirits lurk in the background; strange and never-explained shadows giggle, like amused wood-sprites, from the edge of the hearth-light. This quiet, wholesome super-nature, visible in the The Wild Shore also, is the manifestation of a healthy Nature, breathing free of the urban sprawl, whether via highly expedient micro-nuclear warfare, or by the patient hand demolition that opens Pacific Edge. Nature is ultimately unconquerable, as the depiction of the sea ("The piece we can never tame") and the ever-present Californian winds which blow through all the novels signify, and Robinson's lesson is that while it can be forcibly subdued, such repression can only be to the eventual detriment of its perpetrators.
Robinson's vision of the future is at times stunningly beautiful. Sailing ships, resembling "giant barkentines built in the last years of sailing's classic age . . . complex as jets, simple as kites" are once again the principal vehicle for passenger and freight surface transport, and when he's describing these magical vessels, Robinson's writing verges on the romantic style of Terry Dowling's depiction of Future Australia's Charvolants. The writing often seems sun-dappled and breathless, mellifluously sentimental like certain jingly-jangly Guitar-Pop evocations of the sixties, yet as well many less 'fresh-air' but equally evocative sequences decorate Pacific Edge. In a surreal and stunningly vivid sixth chapter, the mystical Hank throws a party to celebrate a manned Mars landing. As humankind touch down for the first time on another world, his and Kevin's El Modernan friends swim naked in a natural hot-tub, wearing animal masks of papier-mâchè and drinking home-brewed tequila to the sounds of flute and Chinese harp, a silent television showing pictures of the red planet in the background. Magic realism blends perfectly with this soft-focus future, and explanations are completely unnecessary.
Despite the seemingly edgeless prose, Robinson doesn't always make it easy on his utopia or its citizens. In one sequence where a raging scrubfire destroys Tom Barnard's house, he looks on, faced with the destruction of all his possessions, armed only with a half-empty photo album and his sadly pathetic, staunchly anti-materialist mantra "it's only things". And that hurts. Elsewhere, Kevin expresses anger at the lack of privacy in El Moderna when the back-pocket communal lifestyle hits him where he lives. Robinson has Tom on the receiving end of some very biting criticism from some Indian students, and Barnard struggles to justify the forced export of the essentially First World revolution, 'for their own good'. At times Robinson does allow himself, in the context of the tale, to expound the virtues of his best-of-all-possible-worlds. Tom's character, ever the Wise Old Man of the trilogy, castigates capitalism as a lie; "government as a protection agency". His society, he says, puts self-interest into context, giving it "some room to work in", and keeps it channelled towards the common good. Yet even when he's preaching social communism it's soto voce; always "what if?", never "this is it!" Robinson even seems to attack his own soap-opera style when he has Kevin think "I'm catching up on the life of the guy who lives in the room right next to mine", yet it's the importance of peoples' lives that makes the Humanist drama work wonderfully. "Utopia is when our lives matter," says a younger Tom locked in a dystopic 2012, and in Pacific Edge, everyone matters.
So then, does the novel work as a Utopian Vision? As Norman Spinrad points out in his essay "Utopias" in the June 1991 issue of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Pacific Edge avoids the dullness, the bland agitprop of traditional utopias, by telling a story that does not seek to confront the world-sweeping dream directly. Pacific Edge is not about the world of 2065, it's about the goings on and the lives of the people in a small town in California. Perhaps it's not important whether Robinson's future could ever come about, whether this utopia for Beach Boys, this touching, Field of Dreams style, almost credible belief in the inherent goodness of the American ideal, where the perfect wake is a party that lasts all afternoon, has "a lot of beer and hamburgers and loud music, flying frisbees, ecstatic dogs, barbecue smoke, endless innings of sloppy softball, volleyball without lines or scoring" and ends with everyone coasting off, "their bike lights like a string of fireflies flickering between the trees", could possibly emerge and be self-sustaining. In the end, the important thing is that it's a credible alternative to the myopically angst-stunted pessimism that seems to have infected certain sf and popular futurism. It's the flipside on the live version of "Apocalypse Soon", and maybe, just maybe, its hope (he says, wiping aside a tear).
And this is Robinson's final word; as the novel draws to its intensely credible conclusion, the story's sympathetic characterisation draws us in, twists our judgement, and finally has us believe, as Kevin himself laments, that Claiborne is without a doubt his world's least happy man. Then finally, as Kevin realises the truth of the situation, we come to see what a wonderful utopia Pacific Edge portrays. For if Kevin is truly the unhappiest person in his world, and his life's as bad as it gets, then what a lucky man he is, and what a world!
EAST OF BENDIGO
The writer of this meta-story is supposed to be sitting in his large blue overstuffed armchair in the sitting room of his home in a suburb of Adelaide and to have begun reading a book he bought for the purpose of writing an article about the book's author. This writer wishes it to be known to the reader of this meta-story that he has decided to call himself Geoffrey Mundane because he does not wish to cause the author who wrote the book which he has bought any embarrassment should the two of them meet some time in the future, at a party in Melbourne, perhaps, where they might sip beer together and talk in a friendly fashion about literature and such interesting subjects inscribed in literature as grasslands in Victoria, the shapes and colours of ponds found in maps, or the knowing faces of young women. This writer supposes that "Geoffrey Mundane" will conveniently designate rather a dull and unimaginative person who can be counted upon to have struggled to elucidate for himself the inward meaning of the stories in the book he has been reading but without effect, for that meaning will always elude him. The author of the book Mundane has been reading may be assured that this writer is so well-disposed towards him as to wish to find amongst the infinitude of possible readers of this meta-story only such people as have a deep affection and a high regard for the author on the basis of their own knowledge of his books and stories and, perhaps, of his treasured appearances on television with his friend and interviewer, Dinny O'Hearn.
Geoffrey Mundane has reached the third page of the author's book and is looking at a paragraph which describes the passage of the storms that come in summer to a school situated a hundred miles inland from that suburb in Melbourne where the narrator of the first story in the book has told the writer, his reader, that he lives. The paragraph reads as follows:
"I thought of each storm in summer as beginning far away to the east, in some bare paddock in the district around St Arnaud, where I have never been. (When I looked just now at a map of the state of Victoria, I saw that I have avoided all my life the countryside east of Bendigo. I was able just now to trace with my finger, beginning at Bendigo and moving north-west to Swan Hill then south-west to Horsham then roughly east to Castlemain and then north to Bendigo, a quadrilateral enclosing more than five thousand square miles that I have never set foot in. Near enough to the centre of this quadrilateral lies the city of St Arnaud, whose name, whenever I heard it as a child, sounded like a preliminary snarl of thunder.)"
Geoffrey Mundane has seen many images of weather maps on television screens. He gets up from his chair, goes to his study, pulls out an atlas of Australia and looks at a map of the state of Victoria, looking particularly at a region north-west of Melbourne. He then returns to his blue armchair, picks up a B pencil, underlines the first and second appearances in the paragraph of the word "east" and writes "west?" in the margin beside the first line containing one of these underlined words and "west/" beside the second. The question mark acknowledges Mundane's uncertainty about the author's thought processes; the diagonal slash indicates he thinks that there should have been an editorial proof correction made at least to the second word "east". Mundane has come to believe that what the author meant to say is that his narrator has avoided all his life the countryside west of Bendigo.
There is no betrayal like the betrayal of a book.
Some time passes and Geoffrey Mundane finishes his reading of the first story in the author's book, a story which he will come to think is perhaps the best of all the stories collected there. He will not have liked all the stories in the book but when he has completed his reading he will feel a greater affection and respect for the author for whom, be it said, he already had a great affection and respect, on the basis of the books written earlier by the author, all of which he has read.
The second story in the book also presents a narrator who looks at a map, this time one found on Page 66A of Edition 18 of the Melway Street Directory of Greater Melbourne. Geoffrey Mundane does not own Edition 18 but when he comes upon this map reference he dutifully gets up from his blue armchair with wooden armrests where he is sitting to read in his upstairs library, goes downstairs to the back room where he shelves most of his local maps, picks up Editions 10 and 14 of the Melway Street Directory of Greater Melbourne, and finds that between Maps 66 and 67 there is located in both of them a map of La Trobe University, which he believes can be trusted to share the same images as those discussed by the narrator in the book. These images are of the two connected lakes, coloured blue on the maps, on which words are inscribed. The lake on the left (south-west) of a white line (path and footbridge) which divides (crosses) it where it narrows from the one on the right (north-east) is inscribed "Stream"; the other is inscribed "System"; the former seems to the narrator to have "the outline of a human heart that had been twisted slightly from its usual shape", the latter like "the outline of a pair of female lips boldly marked with lipstick". Both link images together in his narrator's story and suggests that for him they have significant autobiographical associations which he wishes to share with his reader (or, rather, in the first instance, his audience, since the story "was written to be read aloud at a gathering in the Department of English at the La Trobe University in 1988").
There is no deceit like the deceit of autobiographical fiction.
Mundane examines the blue lake images on the map in the Melway for himself and realises that for him the two together suggest not a drooping moustache so much as a harlequin mask seen in three-quarter left profile, of which the words "Stream" and "System" form the eye-slits. he decides that this image, or a similar one such as the pair of sunglasses belonging to a model or a famous film star such as Lauren Bacall, must have occurred also to the author but that he has repressed the image, because the associations they would have conjured up for the reader or the audience were too revealing. Mundane considers that under the (green) bridge of the nose on the map may now be placed, notionally, the outline of the lips found in the body of water marked "System" and the gestalt resulting may be allowed to suggest for him the sly and smiling face of a woman. The narrator would not have enjoyed contemplating this face. It would have seemed to him altogether too knowing. Mundane, however, has in his mind the image of a young woman of his acquaintance who might often be found smiling secretly, slyly, knowingly behind sunglasses or a mask, but of whose knowingness he himself has never been afraid, because he is mundane enough to know that she is one of those women whose teasing is meant to be easily recognised as such, innocent yet encouraging, not putting a man down yet never inviting an improper breach of her own, ultimately aloof, social integrity. Mundane does not confuse every coquette with Pope's Belinda.
Geoffrey Mundane now takes a wider survey of the whole "Stream System" on the Melway map and notices a detail which he is surprised that the author himself has apparently overlooked, supposing it to be still present in Edition 18. Past the thick-outlined white line which presents KINGSBURY DRIVE on the map the system terminates to the left (south-west) in a third body of water, which has a small island of green near its upper (northern) extremity. This island suggests to Mundane the right eye in the head of a serpent looking back to its tail near the University's NORTH ENTRY and the whole "Stream System" (excluding a right-turning or north-eastern diversion into the "Upper Lakes") appears to have the form of a snake that is beginning to digest two large gobbets of food. Mundane does not know enough to decide that the author has wanted his ideal reader to see this simulacrum of a serpent but he considers that, since the writing of an autobiographical story might sensibly be considered as an author's attempt to deal with the problem of digesting experience and that, as the oesophageal motions of ingestion, whereby bulges of as-yet-unassimilated episodes, at first obtrusive, flatten as the food being transferred by them becomes more and more deeply absorbed into the rememberable life, then this author might have found in the image on the map an acceptable metaphor for this internalising stream system. He wonders whether it is possible that the author meant him to discover all this for himself. Mundane sighs, and goes to bed.
"Writing, when properly managed, (as you may be sure I think mine is) is but a different name for conversation: As no one, who knows what he is about in good company, would venture to talk at all; --- so no author, who understands the just boundaries of decorum and good breeding, would presume to think all: The truest respect which you can pay to the reader's understanding, is to halve this matter amicably, and leave him something to imagine, in his turn, as well as yourself."
Sterne, Tristram Shandy, II xi.
Mundane is now sitting on a linen-covered bed-setee with a floral pattern in the back room of his house, where he can enjoy the morning sunlight. A night has passed in which episodes and images from the book have troubled him throughout a dream in which he has struggled to reconcile them with those maps and directions he has been given so that he might place them in an order which would be significant not only to the enigmatic narrators of the stories in the book (who seem to have been well enough satisfied by them) but also to himself. He returns to the page of the book where he thought that he had found two gross geographical errors and reconsiders the passage.
"I thought of each storm in summer as beginning far away to the east, in some bare paddock in the district around St Arnaud, where I have never been. (When I looked just now at a map of the state of Victoria, I saw that I have avoided all my life the countryside east of Bendigo...)"
Is it the case, Mundane wonders, that what we have here is a perverse Persian carpet effect of imperfection, in which an error is deliberately introduced? If so, are we to imagine the author as humbly bowing to the limitations of his craft and expecting his reader to be equally polite or reverent in pretending to fail to notice the imperfection? Or, alternatively, are we to imagine the author as making these errors boldly, confident that his readers will be too lazy or too stupid to notice them? Mundane has read two reviews of the book, neither of which has mentioned these howlers, although both have obtruded their notice of the author's interest in maps only to shift their attention immediately to the broader issue of the mental mapping that lies behind or "inland" from them; both, too, have noticed the way in which the author's narrators cringe from "the aloof, unknowable, distastefully, frighteningly knowing women" and have pointed apologetically to evident sexual and social weaknesses in several of these narrators. Katherine England say in The Advertiser that
"There are times when one wonders if it is all a great con, if [the author] is smirking up his sleeve as the reader/reviewer struggles through the longwinded designations of characters and attempts to respond with something appropriately solemn and profound.
But I have come to the conclusion that I don't care.
If [the author] is playing games I'm enjoying them, whatever he's doing I'm getting sufficient interest and insight, enough of a challenge and its reward, to keep me as obsessively reading as he obsessively writes."
Dinny O'Hearn, who seems to Mundane to have attended the author's writing classes, because he writes his review in a pastiche of the author's style (giving Mundane a momentary giddy vision of hundreds of writers trained to inscribe howlers amongst their longwinded designations of characters and the locations of grasslands so they might smirk up their sleeves at all their unsuspecting reader/reviewers), begins his Australia Book Review homage by informing his reader that
"I have walked long and often with this writer man, travelled with him on trains, listened to him give exact references on the Melways map, noticed him noting his whereabouts and those places about and abutting his whereabouts, and I am still uncertain why his work interest me so much, unless it be that the geography of the imagination is the first and the last landscape of grasslands to be explored and that the inland of an island such as ours will always be an ambiguous place which may display a real sea and a centre or mirages of either."
Mundane rejects the smirking image of the too-knowing author as unworthy of the imagination of his reader. He also decides to reject the image he has been entertaining, equally unworthily, of the too-unknowing author. He reminds himself that the author is married, with three sons. Although it is almost impossible to credit the wimpish narrators of some of these stories with the ability ever to get themselves married, the author is not such a quivering, hand-jerking, vomiting desperado as several among his narrators have been. The author is knowing but he is also compassionate.
Every harlot was a virgin once, says Blake.
Mundane decides that the geography of the imagination is not to be supposed commensurate with that of the map-maker. The author's narrator who thought of each storm in summer beginning far away to the east did so because he had never been to St Arnaud and thought that it was in the east. He has avoided all his life the countryside west of Bendigo, too. Bendigo, incidentally, is itself almost exactly "one hundred miles inland", north-north-west from Melbourne. Mundane wonders whether he is to suppose that the confusion arose in the narrator's mind because, like the boy in the first of the author's novels, he wished to pretend that the wind was sweeping in a long arc towards him, rather than sprinting directly along, because that was the kind of slow-gathering movement made by the long-distance runners in the horse races he loved to imagine in his garden play and to imitate in his own childhood foot races. Mundane wonders whether the ideal reader of his author's paragraph is supposed to intuit this circular movement of the wind from the carefully placed directional map error of the passage and thereby to inscribe across the grasslands of his mind, in a curve of slow-gathering apprehension like the progress of one of the author's own long-breathed sentences, the wit and compassionate humour with which the author regards this and all the other narrators in his stories.
Having achieved this tentative but defensible answer to the doubts that had assailed him, Mundane, not surprisingly, gasps a little. He makes himself a cup of tea.
There is no faith like the faith of a reader.
Cover by Peter Booth
(McPhee Gribble, $29.99, 235pp, hc, November 1990)
Reviewed by "Geoffrey Mundane"
Our Associate Editor at the University of Transbalkania recently received the preceding fiction in a plain brown envelope. The carefully worded covernote stated it to be the product of the "Inlanders", a South Australian creative writing society, and investigations suggest it was written in reaction to Gerald Murnane's collection, Velvet Waters. Close reading of the text indicates that "Geoffrey Mundane" lives in Adelaide, is male, and might reasonably be supposed to be involved with an institute of higher learning, perhaps even in a professional capacity. Beyond that, we dare not guess.
Originally appeared in Eidolon 5, July 1991.
Copyright © 1991 Eidolon Publications. Individual contributions are copyright to the respective authors.
Reprinted with kind permission of the various authors.