Helen Garner and our terrible projections

Helen Garner and the corridors of empathy

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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Published in September 2014 no. 364

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