‘Reading Under Cover feels like eavesdropping on some of the most fascinating conversations in the history of Australian publishing.’
‘Craig Munro has been a notable catalyst in the fermentation of Australia’s literary culture for over four decades. Under Cover is an enchanting celebration of the rollicking 1970s and 1980s, when Australian writers really hit their straps, and dedicated publishing people, such as Craig, were their exuberant accomplices.’
Craig Munro began his blue-pencil adventures at the University of Queensland Press in 1971. Over the next thirty years, he became friend, counsellor, and occasionally foil to some of the country’s leading authors. Championing the early works of Peter Carey, right up to the Booker–winning True History of the Kelly Gang, Craig also edited David Malouf’s first novel, Johnno. He was teased by Murray Bail’s tantalising mind games, discovered a passion for the fiction of Barbara Hanrahan and Olga Masters, become firm friends with Gerard Lee, and helped create UQP’s acclaimed Indigenous list. His non-fiction authors included former war correspondent Hugh Lunn.
Blending book history with memoir, Under Cover explores the invisible art of editing from an insider’s perspective. Told with warmth and humour, it is a wise, entertaining tour of three audacious, intoxicating, and ultimately inspiring decades of publishing mayhem.
Craig Munro is an award-winning biographer, and the founding chair of the Queensland Writers Centre. As the inaugural fiction editor at the University of Queensland Press, and later as publishing manager, he worked with many emerging writers who have since become celebrated authors. Craig won the Barbara Ramsden Award for editing in 1985, and studied book publishing in Canada and the United States on a Churchill Fellowship in 1991. His previous books include Wild Man of Letters: the story of P.R. Stephensen and Paper Empires: a history of the book in Australia, 1946–2005 (co-edited with Robyn Sheahan- Bright). Since 2012 he has been a judge of the Miles Franklin Literary Award.
I arranged to meet Peter Carey after lunch one day at his advertising agency in Melbourne: a converted warehouse in Erskine Street, Middle Park.
I travelled southeast from Adelaide for a couple of hours... When the lake came into view, it was vast and forbidding, with a raw wind blasting up from the Southern Ocean.
At the 1976 Adelaide Writers’ Week, I found myself billeted with a poet... Right from the beginning, the festival was a long series of maladies and misadventures.
"I hope that people read Under Cover as Munro is good company and I can see why his writers liked him. I hope aspiring writers read him so that they can understand what an editor is and why you do really truly need one."
"This is a charming breeze of a book... It's a precious instance of what we get so little: a precise sense of the riches of our cultural past."
"... Taking cues from the zeitgeist, independent publishing houses certainly needed editors who believed they were engaged in a shared cultural adventure, and Craig Munro was definitely one of those."
"[Munro] swiftly carved a niche for himself as an editor of fiction. Along with future novelist Roger McDonald, the founding editor of UQP’s poetry list, Craig Munro made something remarkable out of this sociocultural sweet spot."