Everywhere I Look (Helen Garner, Text)
I’d probably give Helen Garner five stars for her shopping list; I’ve loved her work since Monkey Grip was published in 1977, the year I began selling books. I’m sure the shopping list would be compelling reading anyway, such is her gift for writing about the everyday. Much of the shorter writing in this nonfiction collection are snatches of vivid observation about domestic life, brief but telling. You could choose any, but I loved ‘Red Dog: A Mutiny’: a splendid insight into human-dog relationships packed into three pages, which is at once funny, alarming, wise and a salutary tale. There are longer pieces of extraordinary insight and clear-eyed intelligence about family, including a beautiful elegy to her mother; murder, all written about with compassion and care; writing; and ballet. A 2014 interview with Rosie Batty, a piece about the murder of Jill Meagher, and a marvellous essay on Barbara Baynton and the importance of Bush Studies show the amazing range of this collection. There’s not a word wasted or out of place. Garner observes, intuits, shares and cares about the lives she writes about like no-one else. Readers will laugh, cry, squirm and gasp and wonder. It’s Garner’s unique gift as a writer, and it’s beautifully realised in Everywhere I Look.
David Gaunt is the co-owner of Gleebooks