Barley Patch

Barley Patch Barley Patch takes as its subject the reasons an author might abandon fiction or so he thinks forever Using the form of an oblique self interrogation it begins with the Beckettian question Must I wri

  • Title: Barley Patch
  • Author: Gerald Murnane
  • ISBN: 9781564786760
  • Page: 105
  • Format: Paperback
  • Barley Patch takes as its subject the reasons an author might abandon fiction or so he thinks forever Using the form of an oblique self interrogation, it begins with the Beckettian question Must I write and proceeds to expand from this small, personal query to fill in the details of a landscape entirely unique in world letters, a chronicle of the images from life and fBarley Patch takes as its subject the reasons an author might abandon fiction or so he thinks forever Using the form of an oblique self interrogation, it begins with the Beckettian question Must I write and proceeds to expand from this small, personal query to fill in the details of a landscape entirely unique in world letters, a chronicle of the images from life and fiction that have endured and mingled in the author s mind, as well as the details and details within details that they contain As interested, if not so, in the characters from his books finished or unfinished as with the members of his family or his daily life, the narrator lays bare the act of writing and imagining, finally giving us a glimpse of the mythical place where the characters of fiction dwell before they come into existence in books.In the spirit of Italo Calvino and Georges Perec, Barley Patch is like no other fiction being written today.

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      Published :2019-02-19T07:48:27+00:00

    1 thought on “Barley Patch”

    1. Writers, or perhaps I should say ‘potential writers’, are the most paradoxical of creatures. They want to write and presumably they want to write so as to be read, but then they all too often lack when it comes to taking what must be the most brave of all leaps of faith – the belief that what they find interesting themselves will also be interesting to other people. So instead they write the sorts of things that they think other people will be interested in. And that is fatal because there [...]

    2. This is a battle. Not one one of the legions faced from opposite terrains. In his quirky, alienated voice Murnane moves closer in this personal battle not to find his place in life but to find life and what it is. Being clear, yet verging on the tendrils of autism he reports that he does not know the difference for himself between his written and read fiction and to what is referred to as actual life. He takes us along, must since his only weapon is writing.A search ensues to separate, locate wh [...]

    3. We're accustomed to literary masterpieces that can be read on their own. You don't need to read Dante's early poetry to read his Commedia, you don't need to read Milton's early poetry to read Paradise Lost, you don't have to read Dubliners to read Ulysses, and thanks all that is holy for that, because those earlier works are really bad. Well, Barley Patch presents a bit of a problem, because if you haven't read, say, eighty percent of Murnane's earlier works, this will look, as one trustworthy [...]

    4. OK I’ll admit it, this is pretty good. Great even. Certainly unique, and Murnane can sure craft a sentence: the precision on display here is awe-inspiring, and if there’s one thing I love it’s precision. He says what he means and if he can’t say it he lets you know it, and tries again. In this he’s like Beckett, and if there’s one thing I love it’s Beckett, but unique in this too―that while his writing shares some of the key salient features of Beckett’s writing, it doesn’t f [...]

    5. A Collision Between Metafiction and Empathy An extremely inventive experimental novel, with a distinctive authorial voice. The back cover copy compares "Barley Patch" to Calvino and Perec: the first is wrong, the second is misleading. It's a book about the author's decision -- which is rescinded and contradicted many times in the book -- to stop writing fiction. Its salient features are Murnane's strangely disaffected and self-aware voice, and his insistently overly accurate forms of description [...]

    6. There are little ecstasies we might experience on this day that live beyond language. Their meanings point beyond the brilliantly shining colors of the gem worn on an old woman's necklace; the butterfly that lands on the top branches of the tree outside the window, adding a grace note to the morning breezes; the warmth a lover has trapped within her bathrobe when fresh from the shower, as she encloses you within it. Murnane calls these moments sacred vessels, and the place of these vessels in ou [...]

    7. Unfortunately both the ideas and the prose of this felt a little dull to me, I certainly found it hard to maintain my interest. The blurred boundary between "fiction" and "autobiography" (really one should say there is no boundary because all is fiction as all is narrative) is much more powerfully explored by Ricoeur and others. Finally I suspect I am a little bored by metafiction which circles around the author's block and his uncertainty as to whether or not he should write at allothers withou [...]

    8. I blogged about it here: More here:5cense/12/bangkokm The book is essentially Murnane writing about writing (or not writing, as he renounces fiction writing)—a self-indulgent exercise for lack of anything else to write about. In answer to his question that prompts the book (inspired by Beckett), «Must I write?» the answer (to Murnane) is: no. If you don't have anything to say, then don't bother.

    9. This is a fictional novel about factual events; or a factual novel about fictional events.This book is a memoir of true events written as objectively as possible; it is therefore not a novel.This book is a factual analysis of fictional events written as a memoir; it is therefore a novel.All the above sentences are true (or not true) of Murnane's 'Barley Patch'.If you like the sort of intellectual gymnastics of paradoxes such as the above you might enjoy this book, and you might also philosophise [...]

    10. "So there's perhaps an autistic version of me that does my writing,but I think I canI'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 [...]

    11. My reactions to this book ranged from stunned appreciation to exasperation/boredom. Solipsism can be used to produce revelatory content, but it has to be used the right way (or something), otherwise the writing starts wilting from lack of air. I guess ultimately when I read a piece of fiction I want to experience an elaborate well-constructed world, one that reaches out towards or uses as its starting point the world we live in…. and not the ruminations of a man-boy and his obsessions with dol [...]

    12. This may be the most recursive work of fiction that I've read. Recursive is a value-neutral term and how one appraises this book is likely to depend on whether one finds this recursiveness, this nesting of memories within memories and themes within themes, entertaining or frustrating. I'm probably in the former camp. The writing is methodical--all the "as it was once called"s and "what was known as"es can make it seem almost plodding. But the exploration of the writer's imagination, how characte [...]

    13. Wow this book was annoying. This is the book from Australia for the World Cup of Literature.The book drew me in as purporting to be about an author who "gives up" writing. The narrator says he is going to explain why. Instead of actually explaining anything the narrator just talks around and around and around. He hints at why he gave up writing, but never actually comes out and says it. He talks about the character he WOULD have written about if he had finished his half-started novel. It felt ve [...]

    14. I look around my room and try to find the books I've started and never finished. Mostly they are non-fiction texts that I pick up at random and put down and come back to when in the mood for information. Rarely do I begin to read fiction and not finish it. I have to say, sorry Gerald, that I didn't finish 'Barley Patch'. Really. I can't be bothered. We read this as a text in a unit on 'Postmodernism' last semester at Sydney Uni. And, as much as the lecturer tried to enthuse and excite our intere [...]

    15. I don’t think that this is the best place to start reading Gerald Murnane, but it certainly made me want to read more, to put this book into context and see what else this amazing writer is capable of. What I loved most about this work of fiction was (1) the way Murnane plays with the intersections, contrasts, and other relationships between fiction and life, (2) the exceptionally flat affect of the prose, and yet its beauty, and (3) the wonderfully allusive use of repetition.The sole problem [...]

    16. Incomparable to any other book to do with time and memory. Superbly written, with the layers of memory suddenly accruing both authenticity and artistry towards the middle of the book. The remaining few chapters are both evasive and comforting as we are brought back again ad again to certain images and memories that by the end of the book seem so familiar to us they would be our own memories.

    17. Barley Patch starts with a question posed by Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet, a question Rilke says all writers should ask themselves, namely: "Must I write?" (9) This question leads to other questions, so the book is structured as the narrator interviewing himself or explaining himself, except that the questions are sometimes so widely spaced, with so much text between them, that it's sometimes a bit of a surprise to come across the next one. The narrator, who repeatedly reminds us we're readi [...]

    18. Struggling with this one. Disappointing because I adored his novel Inland. But there's something almost contrived about this experiment. I started to think Murnane was right to give up writing fiction that somehow his talent had banished itself by over analysis. The book could do with savage editing because there are some interesting sections interspersed with excess baggage. Maybe I'm just not getting the message. Either way I'm going to be careful before reading any more of this author.

    19. My second read by Mr. Murnane. My first was Inland. I found Inland so beautiful with all the descriptions of landscapes but Barley Patch was much less engaging to me. It never grabbed me like Inland did. The stories were wonderfully told, as Murnane is so good at, and this perhaps in itself is reason to read. The quality of writing is excellent and no word is wasted. Murnane is definitely a great writer. It's too bad he hasn't received proper recognition worldwide for his writing.

    20. An utterly unique book. For mine, Murnane makes up a third of the triumvirate of living Australian writers possessed by genius along with Holland and Castro. There's really nothing else like this book anywhere.

    21. I like reading books and wondering how many pages I'll have to go through to understand what the title refers to. It was about five pages from the end for the words 'barley' and 'patch' to arise together.

    22. Difficult read with a unique experimental style. Considered one of the best of Australian writers by the literati. I missed our book club's discussion of the book and only read a part of it.

    23. My opinion of this book fluctuated quite a bit as I read it. I think a second reading might make it work better, but I doubt I'll extend the effort.

    24. Like Inland, which I'd read earlier this year, Barley Patch is oddly compelling, if frustrating and at times a bit exhausting. I'll need some time to digest this one.

    25. This gentleman is a reason to learn to read in the first place, even if his own late work is full of such ambivalence about the act.

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