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Glissando

by David Musgrave

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  • Prime Minister’s Literary Award shortlist
  • NSW Premier’s UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing shortlist

Glissando is something unique: a thoroughly contemporary novel that marriages the intensity and fervour of Patrick White to the displaced cosmopolitan with of Murray Bail and Gerald Murnane.” – James Bradley

When looking back over his life, Archie Fliess has got some understanding to do. So begins his sprawling reflection, from the day the fortunes of two brothers change when they’re taken to be the rightful owners of their granfather’s property in country NSW. Along their journey they’re introduced to an odd collection of family and caretakers, who don’t always have the boys’ best interests at heart. Archie becomes embroiled in the mystery surrounding his grandfather’s life, as their two stories of disappointment and failed ambition unravel.

Glissando travels along many threads with a playful, philosophical voice in a style reminiscent of Sterne’s Tristram Shandy and White’s Voss. It has a burlesque bravado similar to Steve Toltz’s A Fraction of the Whole. It’s an Australia classic, a satirical romp of epic proportions.

“The care (Musgrave) takes in balancing scholarly fastidiousness with a poet’s luminous prose, high comedy with mortal seriousness, results in a work whose refusal of human depth is qualified by the fathomless riches it provides.” – The Weekend Australian

Glissando is one of the most interesting and unique Australian novels that I have read in years, and I have no doubt that it will find readers who will embrace its magnificent oddity. I would also not be surprised to see it crop up on the shortlists of some major literary prizes before the year is out. In an alternate universe somewhere, Glissando is already an Australian classic.” – Emmett Stinson

“It’s an ambitious novel that bristles with sharp humour among the dense clouds of language. Musgrave pulls no punches as lie takes the reader on a very strange journey indeed.” – West Australian

Glissando is a clever novel, as aware of itself as it is of the literature it continually references. It’s perfectly titled, in its likeness to a musical flourish with no lingering chords or insistent melody. Sitting somewhere between Baz Luhrmann and Samuel Beckett, it’s an insight into how well a melodrama can suit a character who prefers to avoid narrating sincere emotions.” – Australian Literary Review

“Musgrave turns outback Australia into a vainglorious artistic battle ground, the melodramatic style – filled with music, exaggerated characters, and improbable events—echoing the great Australian yarn to brilliantly satirise the chequered history of art in this country. Glissando submits the cultural cringe to its own ends (even sending Reggie to England ‘to purge himself of art’) and anyone engaged in the arts in Australia will find much to laugh (or cry) about in this wise, lyrical romp of a book.” – Bookseller and Publisher