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Max Easton: a note on The Magpie Wing

The Magpie Wing began as a collection of short stories that had been turned down by a number of websites and literary magazines between 2013 and 2019. Finding it too difficult to pitch these shorts, I printed them all out in a zine edition of twenty-five before selling twenty-four of them at cost to friends and acquaintances. When I was down to the last copy, I thought it’d be funny to mail it to the offices of Giramondo considering the unwanted history of those stories, with a hastily type-written letter and ‘resume’ outlining my ‘experience’ to write a novel. I wrongly assumed they would trash it on receipt, but after a few meetings and three iterations of a book, here we are!

In trying to explain what The Magpie Wing ended up being about, I find myself changing the description of the book depending on who I’m talking to. Sometimes I say it’s about rugby league families of south-west Sydney, other times the discovery of subcultural punk communities in the inner city. I think that oftentimes it’s about the related dynamics at the centre of all social pursuits as much as it is about their differences. But maybe at its heart is a depiction of the very specific generation who grew up to witness the repercussions of: the advent of the internet, the end of the Cold War, the rampant privatisation of Australian state services, the accelerating rate of gentrification in Sydney, 9/11 and the GFC, the financialisation of everything, and the rise of a new social consciousness adjacent to the end of history.

I suppose that’s as close as I can get to describing the intent of the book, even if much of it was an accident. I did intend for the heroes of this book to be equally as influenced by Tommy Raudonikis and the Western Suburbs Magpies as they were by Kathy Acker, The Dicks and Noam Choamsky: to have equal appreciation of the great sport of rugby league as they do the (ir-)relevant cultural artifacts of twenty-first century Sydney punk music, all while dreaming of related anti-capitalist pursuits. I hope that’s all on the page somewhere in there.

I worked about as hard as I have on anything to get this close to what I wanted it to be. During the editing process, I was desperately trying to make sure that all that hard work wasn’t visible, as though it all fell onto the page like ~feathers drifting softly to the ground~ … but how pretentious! Tonight, as I hand in the final edits and this author note, I think I’ve finally made peace with the fact that a work that sides with workers can get away with showing some stitches and seams.

Thanks for reading this if you find the time to do so.

– Max Easton

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