Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Australia mourns death of writer it never read

With the death of Randolph Stow on 29 May 2010, all of Australia is mourning the loss of a writer it never heard of and who it never read.

In an obituary published in the Sydney Morning Herald, critic Peter Craven has said, "Stow was truly one of the greatest writers who we have never read." Craven talked in detail about Stow's atmospheric writing (which he had never read) and his gift for contriving exciting plots (which he hadn't read either.) "Maybe one day," mused Craven hopefully, "I will be as little read as Stow is today." Craven's colleagues agreed.

Writers, public figures, and dignitaries have all paid tribute to Stow, who none of them have ever read, as a great and influential Australian, albeit one that few of them knew. A number of widely-circulated newspapers, including The Australian, The Age, and The West Australian, have performed a critical overview of Stow's most famous titles, while ABC's The Book Show plans to do dramatic reading from Stow's chapter headings and back-cover blurbs on the weekend.

Meanwhile, academics from universities have spoken about the lasting contribution of Stow's unread books to Australian literature. Professor John Warblung, Sydney University, is an expert on the works of Randolph Stow, having not read all of Stow's books, several times. His most recent work is the book, 'The Life and Letters of Randolph Stow', in which he concludes, 'Randolph Stow lived for 74 years and may or may not have used the letters A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X and Z in his works. And possibly also Y.'

The nation joins tonight in mourning over the death of this widely loved, though largely unrecognised and unread, author, before going back to read the latest Dan Brown novel. Randolph Stow, whoever he was, will be sorely missed.



Armagny said...

Tim Winton's apparently read him, you cynic.

"before going back to read the latest Dan Brown novel"

OK, um yeah. When people talk abou the need to read books, any books, a sentiment with which I instinctively agree, I think of the top ten lists in the Age, pap that should be disposed as suggested by Houellebecq- buried beneath the water line so that no one ever finds it and reads it again.

TimT said...

I actually quite like Dan Brown. I would probably like Stow too - if I read him.

It's possible I have the issue of pulp vs. serious literature on my mind after reading this. I got it from Tim.

Steve said...

Hey, I hope it does my literary "street cred" some good to point out that I have read one book by Stow! It was "Visitants," set in New Guinea and about a UFO sighting. Stow had been there himself, and knew about the famous Gill sighting which the story is more or less based on.

The book,as I recall, was quite OK.

Steve said...

Tim: sad to say, your literary street cred has just plummeted with the words "I actually quite like Dan Brown." :)

TimT said...

Yeah I know you were grumbling about him before Steve. It's good for literary street cred to diss Dan Brown as the critics singled him out as literature enemy number one - probably because he was so massively succesful. I'm not too fussed about the enduring value of his writing: I enjoy his plots. The writing itself is about on par with most journalism produced these days, which is to say, it's mostly spelled correctly and serves a simple purpose - to communicate a satisfyingly shocking narrative to the reader. Nothing particularly wrong with that.

Karen said...

Some of us have read Randolph Stow. Me for one. I recommend his novels - and I've actually read 'em all! "The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea" is the classic coming-of-age novel and a great read; others ("Tourmaline", "To the Islands") are also worth a look. And I'd be grateful if anyone can tell me what the hell "The Girl Green as Elderflower" is about.

Steve said...

The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea is also in the current $10 Penguin range, so someone must think there is some market for it still.

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