Ghost Writing (Johnno, Dante and David Malouf)
I’m not normally a fan of horror stories and yet I’ve found David Malouf’s Johnno a fascinating read.
Ostensibly a book about two boys growing up and out of Brisbane in the days before it became a city, Johnno is actually about possession – about two opposing figures trying to win the other over.
Johnno’s the hero. He’s daring, disorderly and dangerous, a restless irresistible rebel.
The narrator, Dante, is the author’s alter ego. He haunts the story, refusing to declare himself, relentlessly evading capture – by his father, his birthplace and his friend.
‘I’ve spent years writing letters to you and you never answer, even when you write back,’ Johnno complains.
Johnno, the novel, is the author’s brutal belated reply.
When it appeared, in 1975, Johnno the man was long-dead and Dante had won, having taken possession of his friend as only a writer can.