A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work (Bernadette Brennan, Text)
I don’t think there has been a more significant writer in my bookselling life than Helen Garner—Monkey Grip was published in 1977, the year I began selling books. Every work of hers, fiction and nonfiction, published over those 40 years, has had a significant and lasting impact on the Australian literary and cultural landscape. So Bernadette Brennan’s splendid A Writing Life: Helen Garner and her Work is a timely and important book. It’s a critical biography, with a deft and intelligent focus on the whole body of Garner’s work, but rich in biographical detail to situate the course of a writing life in the lived experience which produced it. The works are analysed meticulously, sensitively, carefully, and the reader’s reward is to be granted access to a biographical context for each book which richly enhances our understanding and appreciation of Garner’s long and wonderful career. The book is all the better for its in-depth analysis of the three major nonfiction books since 1995. Brennan’s depiction of Garner’s fearless approach to the very difficult subjects of The First Stone, Joe Cinque’s Consolation and This House of Grief is beautifully modulated and a real triumph. She has captured and interpreted an important writer and her work beautifully.
David Gaunt is the co-owner of Gleebooks