I just read the sad news of the death of one of WA’s finest novelists, Randolph Stow. He was 74 and living in England.

I’ve often wondered what happened to Stow, why he stopped writing (or at least publishing). His career served as a kind of parable for me – it didn’t matter how well you did, things might still not work out right. He had published several award winning novels by the age of thirty and seemed unstoppable. And yet he published nothing in the last twenty-six years of his life. I tried several times to get into his final novel, The Suburbs of Hell, but I couldn’t, for some reason. Sorry, Randolph.

Over the last few years, I have kept on meaning to read more of his work. Merry-Go-Round In the Sea is surely one of the best Australian novels ever written, one of the great novels about childhood.

I have an obscure connection to Randolph: family legend has it that his mother boarded with my great-grandmother for a time in the 1960s. I don’t even know why, and I don’t know if it’s true.