Helen Garner and our terrible projections

Helen Garner and the corridors of empathy

Helen Garner and our terrible projections

This House of Grief

by Helen Garner

Text Publishing, $32.99 pb, 288 pp, 9781922079206

In August 2013, Robert Farquharson was denied special leave to appeal to the High Court against his conviction for the murder of his three young sons Jai, Tyler, and Bailey, aged ten, seven, and two. This was the final legal chapter in the lengthy story Helen Garner explores in This House of Grief.

Garner begins with the ‘Once’ that prefaces fairy tales – stories we think we know well enough to recite from memory; clear, oracular, and resonant: ‘Once there was a hard-working bloke who lived in a small Victorian country town with his wife and their three young sons.’ One day, ‘out of the blue, his wife told him that she was no longer in love with him’. Transformed by this into ‘the sad husband’, Farquharson packs a suitcase and leaves, saddled with the ‘shit car’ of the two owned by the couple.

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Felicity Plunkett

Felicity Plunkett

Felicity Plunkett is a poet and critic. Her first collection of poetry Vanishing Point (UQP, 2009) won the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Prize and was shortlisted for several other awards. She has a chapbook Seastrands (2011) in Vagabond Press’ Rare Objects series. Her new collection A Kinder Sea is forthcoming. Felicity was Poetry Editor for University of Queensland Press and edited Thirty Australian Poets (UQP, 2011). She has a PhD from the University of Sydney and her reviews and essays have been widely published in The Australian, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Book Review, Sydney Review of Books etc. Her essay ‘Sound Bridge’, a portrait of Indigenous Australian musician Dr G. Yunupingu, was first published in Australian Book Review and anthologised in Best Australian Essays 2015 (Black Inc, ed. Geordie Williamson).

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