Helen Garner

‘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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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 ...

Already, Anu Singh’s story is grimly familiar. Now free again, just thirty-one, she has entered the popular pantheon of malefactors. Her attractive face appears in the newspapers, taut with self-justification. There is talk of a documentary. Notoriety, even a kind of celebrity – that amoral nirvana – is hers.

If Singh’s deepest motivation f ...

Felicity Plunkett reviews Helen Garner's new book about the Farquharson case and discusses the complex effect love has on human motivation.

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The Spare Room marks Helen Garner’s return to fiction after a long interval. Since Cosmo Cosmolino (1992), she has concentrated on non-fiction and journalism: newspaper columns and feature articles. She has speculated in public about her distance from fiction... ... (read more)
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