Wakefield Press :: Literature - Crime/Fantasy/Horror :: Sincerely, Ethel Malley

Sincerely, Ethel Malley

Stephen Orr

Sincerely, Ethel Malley
In the darkest days of World War II, Ethel Malley lives a quiet life on Dalmar Street, Croydon. One day she finds a collection of poems written by her late (and secretive) brother, Ern. She sends them to Max Harris, co-editor of modernist magazine Angry Penguins. He reads them and declares Ern an undiscovered genius. Determined to help publish the poems, Ethel moves in with Max and soon becomes a presence he can't understand, or control. He gets the feeling something's not quite right. About Ethel. About Ern. Then two poets come forward claiming they wrote Ern's poems.

What follows is part-truth, part-hoax, a dark mystery as surreal as any of Ern's poems. Max wants to believe in Ern, but to do this he has to believe in Ethel, and attempt to understand her increasingly unpredictable behaviour. Then he's charged with publishing Ern's 'pornographic' poems. The questions of truth and lies, freedom of speech, and tradition versus modernism play out in a stifling Adelaide courtroom, around the nation's wirelesses, and in Max's head.

Based on Australia's greatest literary hoax, Sincerely, Ethel Malley explores the nature of creativity, and human frailty. It drips with the anaemic blood of Australian literature, the gristle of a culture we've never really trusted.

Stephen Orr has published eight novels, a volume of short stories (Datsunland) and two books of non- fiction (The Cruel City and The Fierce Country). He has won or been nominated for awards such as the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, the Miles Franklin Award and the International Dublin Literary Award. Stephen Orr lives in Adelaide. He was one of two recipients of the 2020 CAL Author Fellowships.

Praise for Sincerely, Ethel Malley

'The poet who never lived is fated to live forever in Australia's literary imagination. For my father Max Harris, he was a genius provoking a detective story, a tabloid sensation, and a public humiliation. But, until his death, Max stood behind the view that Ern Malley's hoax poems were brilliant, whatever their genesis. Stephen Orr recontextualises these poems and revives a 1940s world whence they came, fleshing out a life for Ern's sister, Ethel, and another version of Max in those fecund bohemian years. A new world springs from the old in a vivid reimagining. I was simply enthralled.' - Samela Harris (Max Harris's daughter)

'I bloody loved it, devoured it in a couple of short sittings. Funny in exactly the right way, unique and - perhaps most importantly - entirely plausible. Ethel Malley is easily one of the most vibrant and glorious literary creations I've encountered in a very long time.' - Chris Womersely

'Stephen Orr is a beautiful craftsman, patiently unfolding a range of ways of looking at an intoxicatingly complex story. He is a prolific writer and his work is characterised by a methodical ability to deal with issues of substance. His writing has the energy required to sustain long narratives but is never histrionic. This new book is no exception. Culture wars, even old ones, raise blood pressure. Orr's take is ironic and compassionate.' - Michael McGirr, Age

Ethel's an amazing character flammable, defensive, unreliable, unstable she is a memorable character based on the ghost of a ghost. - Gavin, ABC RN The Bookshelf
Format Paperback
Size 210 x 140 mm
ISBN 9781743058084
Extent 450 pages
Price: AU$34.95 including GST
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