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I never met anyone whose interest in racing matched my own. Both on and off the course, so to speak, I’ve enjoyed the company of many a racing acquaintance…I’ve read books, or parts of books, by persons who might have come close to being true racing friends of mine if ever we had met. For most of my long life, however, my enjoyment of racing has been a solitary thing: something I could never wholly explain to anyone else.
As a boy, Gerald Murnane became obsessed with horse racing. He had never ridden a horse, nor seen a race. Yet he was fascinated by photos of horse races in the Sporting Globe, and by the incantation of horses’ names in radio broadcasts of races. Murnane discovered in these races more than he could find in religion or philosophy: they were the gateway to a world of imagination.
Gerald Murnane is like no other writer, and Something for the Pain is like no other Murnane book. In this unique and spellbinding memoir, he tells the story of his life through the lens of horse racing. It is candid, droll and moving—a treat for lovers of literature and of the turf.
‘Murnane is a careful stylist and a slyly comic writer with large ideas.’
‘Murnane is quite simply one of the finest writers we have produced.’
‘Unquestionably one of the most original writers working in Australia today.’
‘Something for the Pain is Gerald Murnane at his best. His meticulous exploration of his lifelong obsession with horse racing is by turns hilarious, moving and profound. If Australian writing were a horse race, Murnane would be the winner by three and a half lengths.’
‘A marvellous book about horse racing, one of the best this country has produced. It is full of fast and loose stories and colourful characters…and lots of laughs.’
‘Fascinating…Totally intriguing, utterly hilarious.’
‘A memoir of horse racing that speaks of triumphs and tragedies, of the infinite shades of friendship and romance, of the precision and persistence of memory, and—in its characteristically calm, direct prose as much as its contents—of virtue.’
‘A perennial stayer in the Nobel Stakes.’
‘A treat—a rare glimpse into the mythology of a grand sport.’
‘Murnane’s fastidious compositional style is matched perfectly with his comic genius.’
‘This book, this little volume, is an absolute gem. It’s literary, lucid, full of love for horses and racing and full of the strange highly-ordered madness of Murnane, full of a selfless disclosure. It’s marvellous. Funny, moving, beautiful. A brilliant book.’
‘Murnane recounts his life through his abiding obsession with horse racing. But you don’t have to care about horse racing—it’s the quality of the obsessed mind that matters.’
‘Yes, this is about Murnane’s lifelong obsession with horse-racing, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a memoir that illuminates his deliberately unusual life and his exquisite fiction.’
‘This book is that rare thing (as, evidently, is its author): a true original…Hilarious, moving, unique: a step inside one man’s passion, a key to his rich imaginative life. If you read nothing else this summer, read Something for the Pain.’
‘It is the only one of [Murnane’s] books that can reasonably be called breezy…The knot that has bound religion, sex and fiction-writing in his books is loosed.’