Meta Level Literature

After having marathon slept night before last, no wonder I couldn´t sleep. I finally dozed off at half past ten in the morning, and made sure I got up at two in the afternoon, to prevent becoming too freakishly out of touch with any form of normal life.

The upside of insomnia is that one has what seems like endless hours of silence and stillness to read and think. I finished Gerald Murnane´s "Barley Patch", an unexpected and truly original find, thanks to a favorable review in some newspaper or other. I really can´t say I have come across anything like it. It´s not really a story, as such, more like an exploration of a mind, a consciousness, that may or may not be the author´s own. He paints pictures with his words, of flat landscapes with mostly grass, some trees, one or two storey houses; he dwells on men with an obsession for horse racing, convents, boys trying to meet girls, the nature of reading, and whether or not one should write.

Some readers might find him repetitive. There are turns of phrases that keep coming back, in different ways. They are elements of his imagination that he uses like a child uses building blocks to make different structures. One gets the impression that he is showing us how he works. I´m sure I would have much more to say on that subject if I had read anything else by him, but he is a completely new aquaintance for me.

I keep returning, throughout the reading, to the photo of the author himself. Looking for clues, perhaps. I find none. He is rather handsome, I think. He seems unaware of himself. He seems not to pose for the camera.

I know I will read more by him, I know this book will mean a lot to me and perhaps I will return to it later. That does not mean that I recommend it to anyone. If you´re looking for a story, an adventure, something that has a beginning and an end, look elsewhere. This is a book for those who are interested in literature and the mechanics of it, if you will. It´s solid stuff, a real nugget of preciousness in an ocean of mediocrity. They say he is on the short list at the Swedish Academy for the Nobel Prize, and I can´t think of a more worthy recipient of that award.

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