Little Women

Helen Garner, sold by weight
by
June 1986, no. 81

Little Women

Helen Garner, sold by weight
by
June 1986, no. 81

The publishing world and other allied industries, namely the media and literary critics, tend to promote authors on a ‘star’ system. Especially women writers. They allow certain women to become ‘flavour of the month’. Recently, if you remember, it was Beverley Farmer, and then Kate Grenville. For a short period, every newspaper, magazine, or radio program with a literary bent featured them and their fiction. This treatment is reserved for fiction writers. Never is such sustained coverage given to that awesome creature, the ‘woman poet’.

Both Grenville and Farmer have now been allowed to fade from the scene. Farmer, especially, refuses to comply with the modern demand for writers to be literary performing seals, required to dash off brilliant reviews of other writers, give insightful and in-depth interviews about the autobiographical content of their fiction, or deliver fascinating talks on ‘female aesthetics’. Perhaps this explains why, when Farmer wins a major literary award, she is only accorded ‘flavour of the day’ status. For the star system only works with a co-operative author who enjoys the demands of being a star. Someone who is a consistent and flexible performer as well as writer.

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