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Australia’s leading poet Les Murray is one of the globe’s finest, and he knows it. So much so, a request to blurb a collection of poems by the poet J.K. Murphy becomes an opportunity for him to flaunt his clout. Apparently, Les Murray’s wife is an aspiring author, a social historian to be precise. Like a good husband, Murray thought he’d lend a hand to his wife’s publishing career. Nothing shameful about that, I guess.
However, as the above letter indicates to the editors at Puncher & Wattmann, a fairly new independent press in Australia, Murray thought he’d pursue a little back-scratching. Clearly, this is nothing new in the history of human relations.
You blurb my book; I will publish your wife’s migrant chronicle. Good for him.
A few days later, after the story broke in Australian newspapers, Mr. Murray called the whole thing a joke and meant to deflect future requests for “endorsements,” as he is tired of being “pestered unmercifully” for hyperbolic remarks of praise for mediocre manuscripts.