Book Club: Mieke Chew


Melbourne writer Mieke Chew is one of our favourite local literary minds. Not only is she great with her own words, but she’s also part of the Higher Arc team—a publication so slick it’s terrifying that it’s run by a bunch of kids in their twenties. I’d make a Dave Eggers/Might comparison but it would just make you all feel super self conscious about your own achievements. Lets just talk about what she’s reading instead.

Cosmos by Witold Gombrowicz 

Cosmos is a game changer. The novel, written by Polish author Witold Gombrowitz in 1965, gives the seemingly harmless link between mundane objects and events a cosmic connection. Everything seen or heard is cause for concern, befuddlement and bemusement. If you’re a paranoid person it may confirm that all your fears (whatever they may be) are warranted.

I was deep in a Gombrowicz-reading-frenzy when I met the artist Christopher Russell at the 2011 Brooklyn Book Festival. We soon realized we shared a mutual fixation on Cosmos. Chris’s love for Cosmos lead him to sketch in intricate detail the opening scene of the novel, in which the two main characters hazard upon a dead bird hanging from a tree (a significant moment).

To give you an idea of the sheer brilliance of Cosmos, a short passage:

Tutti frutti! What a scoundrel!

You, sir, are a masturbator.

What’s that? I beg your pardon? How am I to understand this?

Go to your own for whatever turns you on!

What do you mean?

I moved my face close to his face and said:


If this glimpse only makes you feel baffled, then you have two choices: read the entire book for some context; or, if you don’t like the feeling of being baffled, skip Gombrowicz all together. Personally I enjoy being baffled, it is my natural state. If you’re with me on this then I highly recommend you plunge head first into this incredible novel.

To see Russell’s beautiful adaptation check out Higher Arc, and while you’re at it, consider supporting our next issue!

Image via Christopher Russell.




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