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March 28, 2018


A Writing Life Helen Garner and Her Work

by N@ncy

  • Author: B. Brennan
  • Title: A Writing Life Helen Garner and Her Work
  • Published: 2017
  • Triva: Longlist Stella Prize 2018



  1. Helen Garner writes fiction but has accrued
  2. …quite a bit of attention with her non-fiction books:
  3. Joe Cinque’s Consolation ( 2004) and
  4. The House of Grief (2014).
  5. She delves deeply into a crime, follows the
  6. judicial process carefully, speaks to expert
  7. psychologists/psychiatrists/doctors/pathologists and the family members.
  8. It is an extraordinary way of writing.
  9. She has to take care that
  10. ..she is not “drawn into the darkness”
  11. …of the subject she is writing about.
  12. It has taken an emotional an
  13. physical toll on Helen Garner.
  14. I had my doubts on page 80.
  15. I nearly abandoned this book. Why?
  16. I knew nothing about Helen Garner.
  17. I had difficultlygetting through her …early writing years ( Monkey Grip)
  18. But I found the muscle to keep going after a slow start.
  19. Once Helen Garner moved to non-fiction
  20. I was hooked while reading chapter 7.
  21. Strong point:  Garner’s her ability to get into people’s heads.
  22. Strong point: Garner operates as a filter for ideas.
  23. Strong point: Garner presents the evidence of the crime
  24. but into a form that builds the narrative tension.
  25. Last thoughts:
  26. The book is an impressive undertaking.
  27. Bernadette Brennan did a stellar job.
  28. The book deserved to be mentioned
  29. …on the longlist for Stella Prize 2018.
  30. I am only sorry the jury did
  31. …not place it on the  Stella Prize shortlist.
  32. But we all know...sometimes the real winners
  33. …are on the long list!
  34. You just have to look for them!
4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mar 29 2018

    I’m glad to hear you persevered and that it was worth it. You’ve inspired me not to abandon this one either – thanks 🙂


    • Mar 29 2018

      I’m glad I kept reading…I’m impressed by Helen Garner. Om page 280 she wrote in her journal; “I was BORN to do this kind of work.” I think I would like to read Garner’s non-fiction…but not her fiction. Just like William Trevor ….he was BORN to write short stories and I found his fiction disapppointing. Have you read Garner?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mar 29 2018

        Only her non fiction so far. I love it.


      • Mar 29 2018

        I’ll have to look up your reivews on Brona’s Books!

        Liked by 1 person

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