My Brother Jack
by Kevin Patrick
KEVIN PATRICK takes a look at an Australian classic – My Brother Jack by George Johnston – and tries to work out why a book with such an unsympathetic central character became so popular.
Since it was first published forty years ago, My Brother Jack has become that rare phenomenon – a critically lauded Australian novel that was also a popular success. Yet for its author, George Johnston, this was more than just another book. In many ways, My Brother Jack was the last throw of the dice for a man who frequently gambled with his own life.
When he began writing My Brother Jack in 1963, Johnston found himself at a personal and professional crossroads. A decade after forsaking his career as a prominent journalist, Johnston’s literary ambitions had fizzled out in a string of occasionally inspired yet largely overlooked novels. Together with his wife and sometime collaborator, the writer Charmian Clift, Johnston pursued his new life in self-imposed exile on the Greek island of Hydra.
From the December, 2004 magazine.