Wayne's Reviews > Barley Patch

Barley Patch by Gerald Murnane
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M 50x66
's review
Sep 16, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: australian-stuff, language-linguistics
Read from July 16 to August 10, 2010

"So there's perhaps an autistic version of me that does my writing,
but I think I can...I'm communicating well enough with you."
-Gerald Murnane in an interview with Ramona Koval, 18th Feb. 2008.

This is Gerald Murnane finally admitting to what most honest readers would be painfully aware of from the opening sentence of his latest work "Barley Patch",and increasingly as one proceeds, which has ironically just won the the Adelaide Writers' Festival Award for Innovation!!! This awarding should make us highly suspicious of those who set themselves up as Gurus of the Literary Scene and who are unquestioningly endorsed by their fawning acolytes.Just visit some of the sites of Goodread Authors to witness this phenomenon in gross detail.

Prior to Murnane's sadly pleading statement above, Ramona Koval has gently suggested that this is the case:

R.K.:I'm kind of tempted to say...there are people now who write about such feelings of being a little bit separate from the world and making lists and making lots of categories (G.M. has been doing this throughout this interview.) and would say that's a slightly autistic way of being in the world.
G.M.: I may be that way. You asked me a question like this once before,(circa 2005) and the moment it came out of your mouth I bristled. I thought"I'm getting out of here", but you asked in a much more friendly way today.
R.K.:Maybe I've aged too.

This is an admirable interview and one can only feel sympathy for Murnane who it seems has been taken up by the Literary Gurus who have very little artistic integrity or judgement.
Hopefully they have been honest about his previous books none of which I have yet been able to purchase.But in this interview Murnane seems to be able to talk about his autism without using words as a vehicle to express his autism with its many obsessions as he does so very clearly in "Barley Patch".

This is the question that must then be asked: can autism filtered through a literary work translate into good literature and deliver up a writer of worth?
In the case of this particular book by this particular writer I can safely say no.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Al (new) - rated it 1 star

Al Bità Good to see some authorial corroboration to what I suspected: that Murnane suffers from some for of Asperger's Syndrome (at least as far as 'Barley Patch' is concerned). As to the 'literary types' who praise unusual writing just because it is unusual, and then ipso facto assume that this is great writing... well I guess I've had enough of it! Time to tell them that the emperor has no clothes!


Wayne Ditto!!
The real victim of all that literary academia stuff is the poor bloody writer.
I think here his condition has not served him favourably, but then this is just another literary opinion!!!
It would be interesting to see some of his other work.
And I hope I remember to browse in a bookshop sometime.


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