Border Districts

Christian Lorentzen writes:

Gerald Murnane was named after a racehorse. His father, Reginald, was a front man for Teddy Estershank, a professional punter who was banned from being a licensed trainer or registered owner of horses by racecourses around Melbourne. Estershank, an ‘evil genius’ according to Murnane, used friends like Reginald as dummy owners for the horses he bought, trained and bet on. The ‘equine Gerald’ and later a horse called Geraldo were nominally owned by Reginald and sold when, after a win or two, they proved disappointments. (They became reliable winners for their new owners.) Reginald’s death, when his disappointing son was 21, was liberating for Murnane, though liberation took a while. Tamarisk Row, a novel about the nine-year-old son of a front man for a professional punter, took ten years to write. It appeared in Australia in 1974, when Murnane was 35.

(LRB 4 April 2019)

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