Review of Last Letter to a Reader: Essays, by Gerald Murnane

This summer, like others before it, I embarked on a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle. It is an odd way to spend time, with satisfactions hard to explain. Is it not the ultimate waste of time? Yet the pointlessness of this activity – its lack of utility – is one of its pleasures. There is, of course, pleasure to be had in slow engagement with the puzzle’s image (I prefer some artwork or other), in paying attention to the picture’s finer calibrations of colour and form and in the slow sometimes quickening pace of joining up pieces. The pleasure of connection is sweetened by the knowledge that in its solution the puzzle serves no purpose, and that it will be disassembled and put away. There is pleasure, there is flow, there is a type of reward, but is there meaning? What is the use? Does meaning issue from the search for that…

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Published 2 May 2023 in Volume 38 No. 1. Subjects: Essays, Gerald Murnane.

Cite as: Rooney, Brigid. ‘Review of Last Letter to a Reader: Essays, by Gerald Murnane.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 38, no. 1, 2023, doi: 10.20314/als.4b94285e70.

  • Brigid Rooney — Brigid Rooney is an Associate Professor (Affiliate) with the Department of English at the University of Sydney, and author of *Suburban Space, the Novel and Australian Modernity* (2018).