A kaleidoscopic meditation on fiction-making by one of Australia’s most acclaimed writers.
“The house of fiction,” wrote Henry James, “has . . . not one window, but a million.” In this, his latest work, Gerald Murnane, one of Australia’s most acclaimed contemporary authors, takes these words as his starting point, and asks: Who, exactly, are that house’s residents, and what do they see from their respective rooms? His answer, A Million Windows, is a gorgeous (if unsettling) investigation into the glories and pitfalls of storytelling. Focusing on the importance of trust and the inevitability of betrayal in writing as in life, its nested stories explore the fraught relationships between author and reader, child and parent, boyfriend and girlfriend, husband and wife. Murnane’s fiction is woven from images-the reflections of the setting sun on distant windowpanes, seemingly limitless grasslands, a procession of dark-haired women, a clearing in a forest, the colors indigo and silver-grey, and the mysterious death of a young woman-which build to an emotional crescendo that is all the more powerful for the intricacy of its patterning.
An exploration of the mind and of literary creation, it is a book of intricate construction and vast intellectual scope….I found myself marveling at Murnane’s intellectual power and originality, acknowledging respect for an artist so devoted to the precise execution of a demanding aesthetic.
—James McNamara, The New York Times
[A] beautiful and strange tale…[an] astonishing feat by a writer of profound conviction.
—Michael Autrey, Booklist
Murnane is a master of breathing life into fiction, and his compilation of ideas on the subject holds immense value because those ideas are often so idiosyncratic and contrarian.
Murnane is a writer of such precision and irony that one hesitates to describe A Million Windows except to say that it will fascinate (and amuse and provoke) anyone who has driven past that house of ‘two, or perhaps three, storeys,’ and wondered what exactly was going on inside.
—Lorin Stein, The Paris Review
An extraordinary and consistently compelling read from beginning to end. —Midwest Book Review
A genius on the level of Beckett.
—Teju Cole, author of Open City
It compels the reader to question the relationship between fiction and reality, the visible and invisible world, probing the rapport between the author-as-narrator and the reader-as-partner in literary discourse.
—Eugene Bacon, World Literature Today
[Murnane’s] emotional conviction . . . is so intense, the somber lyricism so moving, the intelligence behind the chiseled sentences so undeniable, that we suspend all disbelief.
—J. M. Coetzee, The New York Review of Books
Murnane is a careful stylist and a slyly comic writer with large ideas. I know it’s the antipodes, but it’s hard to fathom why he isn’t a little better known here.
—Robyn Creswell, The Paris Review
Murnane is forever hesitant to find fixed meaning in the world, such as it exists outside of his own consciousness; he refuses to impose himself, preferring instead to be overwhelmed . . . and because of that his writing glows with an exquisite, rarified loneliness. He has honed his sincerest, most childlike obsessions and feelings into ethereal shapes.
—Will Heyward, Music & Literature