Helen Garner

Helen GarnerHelen Garner (born 1942) is an Australian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist. Garner’s first novel, Monkey Grip, published in 1977, immediately established her as an original voice on the Australian literary scene – it is now widely considered a classic. She has a reputation for incorporating and adapting her personal experiences in her fiction, something that has brought her widespread attention, particularly with her novels, Monkey Grip and The Spare Room (2008).

Throughout her career, Garner has written both fiction and non-fiction. She attracted controversy with her book The First Stone (1995) about a sexual-harassment scandal in a university college. She has also written for film and theatre, and has consistently won awards for her work, including the Walkley Award for a 1993 Time Magazine report. Adaptations of two of her works have appeared as feature films: her debut novel Monkey Grip and her true-crime book Joe Cinque’s Consolation (2004) – the former released in 1982 and the latter in 2016.

 


Wherever She Wanders 

by
12 November 2021

On the evening of Wednesday, 16 October 1991, after the annual Valedictory Dinner at Melbourne University’s august Ormond College, the Master allegedly made unprovoked sexual advances to two female students. These incidents lead to a scandal which rocked the Melbourne establishment, caused the exit of the Master, and became the basis of Helen Garner’s hugely controversial exploration of sexual politics, class, and power, The First Stone (1995).

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Ramona Koval talks to Helen Garner about True Stories, a collection of her non-fiction work over twenty-five years.

 

Ramona Koval: I would like to begin by talking about the differences between writing fiction and non-fiction. You write about birth and youth, sex, illness, death, sisters ... the big things in life. How does that d ...

‘Unerring muse that makes the casual perfect’: Robert Lowell’s compliment to his friend Elizabeth Bishop comes to mind as I read Helen Garner. She is another artist who reveres the casual for its power to disrupt and illuminate. Nothing is ever really casual for her, but rather becomes part of a perfection that she resists at the same time. The ordinary in these diaries – the daily, the diurnal, the stumbled-upon, the breathing in and out – is turned into something else through the writer’s extraordinary craft.

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In our new episode, ABR Editor Peter Rose reviews Yellow Notebook, the first volume of the diaries by Helen Garner, a most anticipated book. Here, we delve into Garner's own private musings, the diaries she kept during the pivotal years of her writing life. 

 

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Anyone who keeps a diary day in, day out for decades knows why Helen Garner, a few years ago, destroyed her early ones, deeming them boring and self-obsessed. Incineration has a long, proud history: think of Henry James, late in life, at his incinerator in Rye, burning all his letters and private papers – that lamentable blaze. The sheer misery and tedium of our early journals can be dejecting. ‘What is the point of this diary?’ Garner asks herself in 1981. ‘There is always something deeper, that I don’t write, even when I think I’m saying everything.’

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Joan Didion. Not sure what happened, to her or to me, but she lost me about twenty years ago.

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Who is the I in Helen Garner’s work? This is the question Bernadette Brennan probes by canvassing more than forty years of Garner’s writing and her seventy-four-year existence ...

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You could regard this latest book by Helen Garner as simply a collection of various essays, a miscellany if you wish, but to do so would be to give it less than its due. There is nothing casual or accidental about Everywhere I Look. Its coherence may, of course, have much to do with Garner's voice, which is consistent and compelling, as is her actual writin ...

Helen Garner (1942–) is an Australian novelist and non-fiction writer. Garner’s first novel, Monkey Grip, was published in 1977 and was adapted for film in 1981. Since then she has written many works of fiction, including The Children’s Bach (1984), Cosmo Cosmolino (1992), and The Spare Room (2008), as well as non-fiction, including ...

‘For our house is our corner of our world … If we look at it intimately, the humblest dwelling has beauty.’
Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space (1958)

Houses, and their domestic spaces of intimacy and negotiation, s ...

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