Dun and Gum

Nicholas Jose

  • Eucalyptus by Murray Bail
    Harvill, 264 pp, £12.99, July 1998, ISBN 1 86046 494 7

‘To write but avoid becoming a “writer”. This feeling against is insistent and true,’ wrote Murray Bail in a diary in London in 1971. Usually it’s the other way round, the ambition being to become ‘a writer’ and no longer have to write. Bail’s spare output over 25 years might put him in the same category, were it not shaped by the contrary intention expressed in that early warning to himself. He has resisted the trappings of success, insisting with prickly pride on the obstacles in the way of proper literary achievement. Bail’s new novel, Eucalyptus, the first in 11 years, is the latest stage in his quest – and surprisingly suave.

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