David Walsh - the creator of Mona in Hobart - is both a giant and an enigma in the Australian art world. A multi-millionaire who made his money gambling, David has turned a wild vision into a unique reality; he is in turns controversial, mysterious and idolised. A Bone of Fact is his utterly unconventional and absorbing memoir, about which he says:
'By some great good fortune (mine, not yours) you hold in your hands my story, credible I think, but not extraordinary (despite what those avaricious publishers might have you believe). I have captured your attention: maybe you have some resonance with Mona, or maybe good graphical design partly seized your day. To extract 55 bucks from you I need to say something clever, but I can't think of anything.
So I'll seduce you with a tale of another, cleverer, writer. Stanislaw Lem, noted Polish science fiction author and notorious smartarse, once told an American colleague that his new collection of short stories would be published in a paper bag. This conjured a mental picture of the stories being
selected by lucky dip. The idea that my life story could be told that way, without a disabling manifesto, is appealing.
Unfortunately Mr Lem had actually said 'paperback' (his meaning concealed beneath his thick accent), a wholly ordinary practice to deliver extraordinary stories. My story lacks Mr Lem's magical reality and philosophy, and it also lacks a paper bag. You should buy it anyway, if you are at least mildly curious as to why I want you to give me more money, even though I'm already rich. But if you happen to read Polish you could probably do better reading Lem. Incidentally, Polish is one of the few words that changes its pronunciation when you change the first letter from upper case to lower
case. If you are in Natal or Nice you can probably think of another. But surely, if you are in Natal or Nice you have better things to do than lurk in bookshops. Get out of here, but take me with you. I promise to treat you nice. But not so nice that you'll need to go to a natal clinic.'
Long-listed for Tasmania Book Prize 2015.
Winner for ABIA Biography of the Year 2015.