Vale Geoffrey Dean

“It’s been pretty pathetic all the way through,” said Tasmanian writer Geoffrey Dean, who passed away last week at the age of 80 after half a century of writing short stories. Dean was describing how unrewarding his literary career has proven to be in an ABC television interview promoting the release of a selection of his best short stories, Mysteries, Myths & Miracles by Gininderra Press. As an Australian short story specialist, making ends meet was always going to be a challenge for Dean, who worked in a variety of jobs as a result, including farmer, news cameraman, circus employee and used furniture salesman among them. He claimed these experiences enriched his writing.

Here’s a review of his short story collection, The Literary Lunch.

On his blog, Dean introduced himself to readers in this way: “I’ve published heaps of stories and won heaps of prizes and had heaps of acclaim throughout the fifty or so years that I’ve been writing short stories. I would like to say that I’ve also earned heaps of money and gained heaps of readers outside of my home state of Tasmania. But no, the strait is too wide to send across the message that good things happen in the quiet backwaters of this wonderful country. The little poem I wrote to myself last year sums it up quite well I think: In this long drought, a few drops of rain here and there, but never enough to moisten the soil and grow my literary garden.

“But then my main motivation wasn’t to be famous, or get rich. Both fame and money frighten me somewhat. I write short stories because I like them. I like reading a good short story and I enjoy above all other literary pursuits to write them. They suit my temperament. I like to get in and get out before the story looses [sic] its excitement. If I can’t write a story with a sense of excitement, then how can I expect a reader to be excited when reading it. The fact is I have a need to tell stories. I’ve been writing stories ever since I learnt to write. It’s probably a deep-seated neurosis, but hell, who cares, it keeps me happy.

“I find now it takes too long to publish a story in the conventional way today. It can take up to four or five years to battle your way through the heaps of pink slips that say: The editor regrets … and blah, blah, blah … It’s all too much hassle for someone at my age. I haven’t got the time or the patience to persist in the hard-copy world so I pass them into cyberspace, in the hope that they will be read immediately by someone somewhere who appreciates them before the virtual ink dries and the paper curls at the corners.”

Read more at a tribute page published by Roaring Forties Press.

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