Stories

Stories[Reading] ➺ Stories ➰ Helen Garner – Jobs-in-kingston.co.uk ‘Garner is a natural storyteller’ James Wood New Yorker This handsome edition of Helen Garner’s collected short fiction celebrates the seventy fifth birthday of one of Australia’s most loved a ‘Garner is a natural storyteller’ James Wood New Yorker This handsome edition of Helen Garner’s collected short fiction celebrates the seventy fifth birthday of one of Australia’s most loved authors These Stories—that delve into the complexities of love and longing of the pain darkness and joy of life—are all told with her characteristic sharpness of observation honesty and humour Each one a perfect piece together they showcase Garner’s mastery of the form Helen Garner writes novels Stories screenplays and works of non fiction In she received the inaugural Melbourne Prize for Literature and in she won the prestigious Windham–Campbell Literature Prize for non fiction Garner won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction for Postcards from Surfers and the Victorian and ueensland Premiers’ Awards as well as the Barbara Jefferis Award for her novel The Spare Room Everywhere I Look won the Indie Book Award for Non Fiction ‘Garner’s Stories share characteristics of the postcard they flash before us carefully recorded images that remind us of harsher realities not pictured And like postcards they are economically written a bit of conversation is transcribed a memory recalled an event noted scenes pass as if viewed from a train—momentarily distinct and tantalising in their beauty’  New York Times ‘A perfect introduction for first timers who have not yet experienced the pleasures of Garner’s writing’ Sydney Morning Herald ‘ Stories and True Stories are handsome companion volumes deservedly celebrating Helen Garner our greatest contemporary practitioner of observation self interrogation and compassion Everything she writes in her candid graceful prose rings true enlightens stays’ Joan London Sydney Morning Herald’s Year in Reading ‘Published in beautiful editions to celebrate life given shape in words’ Drusilla Modjeska Sydney Morning Herald’s Year in Reading ‘Both of these books are concerned with moments of heartbreak and of hope with loneliness and love and with great cruelties and the things that drive people to them They are animated by a desire to understand what seems unfathomable and to pay attention to the small pleasures of the everyday Garner's precise descriptions her interest in minute shifts of emotion and the ways in which we reveal ourselves to others are always at work in these books and make them a real joy to read’ Age. 45★“At home I answered the phone A young woman asked for my husband ‘He’s not here’ I said ‘at the moment This is his wife speaking’ I told her my name ‘Oh yes’ said the young woman ‘He told me he was involved with you’ ‘Involved’ I said ‘He’s MARRIED to me’‘Oh well’she said with an airy laugh ‘Married involved’”Oh Helen Garner You share such cringe worthy moments that I’d be embarrassed if I met these people outside the pages of your work Some seem so raw and uncomfortableThe characters here range from lovers breaking up and friends reuniting to children trying to make sense of grown up conversations and intertwined bodies they weren’t meant to see ‘Postcards From Surfers’ is a particularly poignant story about an adult family – parents adult daughter and auntie – holidaying as usual at Surfers Paradise The women are knitting as always and their conversation is exactly like those I have with one of my oldest friends also a knitter“My mother and Auntie Lorna well advanced in complicated garments for my sister’s teenage children conduct their monologues which cross coincide and run parallel Their two voices run on one high one low If I speak they pretend to listen just as I feign attention to their endless looping discourses these are our courtesies this is love Everything is spoken nothing is said”Garner is an acclaimed Australian author candid about the broken marriages behind her and the grandchildren she adores and for whom she’s discovered a whole new layer of love She writes fiction and non fiction both long and short and recently won the 2017 Walkley award for journalism There seems to be nothing she can’t do I am an admiring fanMany of these seem as if they could be from her own life and experience but I would hesitate to point to any particular one She is such a keen observer of people and their relationships that she may well have invented something from watching a couple in an airport I’ll never know Whether Elizabeth was a real friend or invented it doesn’t matter She’s real to me“In the café Elizabeth told me her husband was dying of a tumour ‘I used to think there was justice’ she said ‘and fairness That there was a contract that things meant something Now I know your foot can go straight through the floor’”What people face how people cope this is the stuff of Garner’s work It doesn’t always take a book She can reach you with a storyI’m very grateful to NetGalley and Text Publishing for the preview copy from which I’ve uoted Reading Helen Garner's short stories is like glimpsing intimate snapshots of people's lives For a brief time they are sharply in focus with a hint of backstory and character oozing out of their dialogue and feelings This volume of Garner's short stories was put together to celebrate her 75th birthday in 2017 is a chance to re discover favourite tales and and discover new gems I first read Postcards from Surfers than twenty years ago and enjoyed re reading this story from an older perspective In it a young woman is visiting her aging parents who have moved to the Gold Coast and writing observations and memories on postcards to someone called Philip who is no longer part of her life Garner most often writes about the everyday particularly of love and loss Her characters are usually unremarkable but recognisable as someone you might have once met and her prose is often sparse but full of meaning often poignant but also humorous Of the stories I hadn't read before I loved All those Bloody Young Catholics where a man sitting at the bar in a pub greets an old mate who's just walked in and then proceeds to hold forth in a continuous monologue about the state of their friends and the world in general I think we've all met someone like that in a pub or at a barbecue I'm sure that everyone who reads this will find a story out of this very stylish collection that resonates with them With thanks to Netgalley the author and Text Publishing for providing me with a copy of the book Helen Garner is a versatile wordsmith Should she ever reuire a curriculum vitae though it seems unlikely her résumé would include novelist short fiction writer journalist critic translator and screenwriter among her superabundance of literary skillsBorn in the port city of Geelong Australia in 1942 Garner neè Ford worked as a high school teacher from 1966 until she was sacked for giving an unscheduled sex education lesson to her 13 year old students” in 1972 She published her first novel Monkey Grip in that same year since when it has become an important though fiercely disagreed upon part of the Australian canon She is now widely regarded as one of the foremost Antipodean writers of her time Stories The Collected Short Fiction released to coincide with Garner’s 75th birthday is a selection of neoteric tales from a hugely accomplished storyteller Her characters are finely portrayed and believable because flawed and the narrative is wholly absorbing often intense although never to the point of seeming contrivedHer protagonists tend to be lonely or desperate people who have Freudian type dreams and bouts of anxiety but an undercurrent of humour is detectable in each piece Her stories never lack wit Garner reaches her zenith in La Chance Existe and Dark Little Tales but there are no weak parts to this collection – it is simply that some stories are brilliant than othersI started reading this book as a Helen Garner greenhorn Appetite now whetted I am keen to explore her substantial back catalogue starting with The Children's Bach which is held by many to be one of the greatest short novels ever written by an AustralianA truly bonzer discoveryMany thanks to Text Publishing for supplying an advance copy of this title ‘Her prose is wiry stark precise but to find her eual for the tone of generous humanity one has to call up writers like Isaac Babel and Anton Chekhov’ Wall Street Journal ‘Garner’s non fiction is often driven by the uestion why Ruthless and full blooded her journalism nevertheless displays the greatest nimbleness in its accommodation of ambivalence and uncertainty Her short stories on the other hand have a tendency to rise seamlessly towards epiphany’ Times Literary Supplement ‘As I leaf through the volumes having just re read both of them I am still brought up short by another revelatory insight of the everydayI could go on and on but I am out of words Many happy returns Helen Garner’Adelaide Advertiser ‘Helen Garner’s collections of fiction and nonfiction corroborate her reputation as a great stylist and a great witness’ Peter Craven Australian Books of the Year 2017 Smoking dope and eating spaghetti the abrupt ending of a happy marriage the psychological effect of wearing stripes Helen Garner takes slivers of daily life sometimes the most mundane and gently folds them into poetry on the page’Australian Gourmet Traveller ‘Memoirist fiction writer faction writer journalist? Australian critics and booksellers have stopped trying to pigeonhole Melburnian writer Helen Garner and now just give her prizesThese stories and essays are the work of a natural storyteller of an unsparing yet sympathetic eyeIt’s all wonderful stuff unstinting honesty clarity and charm Dive in’North South ‘This is the power of Garner’s writing She drills into experience and comes up with such clean precise distillations of life once you read them they enter into you Successive generations of writers have felt the keen influence of her work and for this reason Garner has become part of us all’Australian‘Stories and True Stories are handsome companion volumes deservedly celebrating Helen Garner our greatest contemporary practitioner of observation self interrogation and compassion Everything she writes in her candid graceful prose rings true enlightens stays’Joan London Sydney Morning Herald’s Year in Reading ‘Published in beautiful editions to celebrate life given shape in words’Drusilla Modjeska Sydney Morning Herald’s Year in Reading ‘Both of these books are concerned with moments of heartbreak and of hope with loneliness and love and with great cruelties and the things that drive people to them They are animated by a desire to understand what seems unfathomable and to pay attention to the small pleasures of the everyday Garner's precise descriptions her interest in minute shifts of emotion and the ways in which we reveal ourselves to others are always at work in these books and make them a real joy to read’Age My opinion of this collection of short stories keeps wavering Yes Garner can write No one would ever uestion that idea But being an intelligent and talented writer is only the beginning of a successful book We all know you don’t need to be talented or produce anything intelligent to have readers fall in love with your works Case in point the popularity of rubbish like the Twilight and 50 Shades series I certainly loved the way she set the mood with each story The settings in each story were instantly familiar especially the Gold Coast one I could taste the salt in the air see the colour changes of the ocean’s horizon and the shimmering hazy outline of the Surfers Paradise skyscrapers in the north of the story's setting of Coolangatta Often it was like I was looking at postcards with a sepia tone instead of words on a page The mood too is distinctly Australian Even when the setting was overseas it felt Australian I also had no issues with the characterisation Given the brevity of each of the stories the characters were fully formed within a few sentences Although now that I reflect uite a few of the leading females could have almost been perceived to be the same person In fact I think some have suggested many of the leading females could be Garner herselfThere is plot in each story which again is very clever considering the short format There is no real joy in any of them however Rape other sexual and physical assaults are all common themes throughout Husbands cheat on wives mothers are oblivious to the abuse directed towards their children Everyone is alone everyone is helpless and hopeless But taking away from my enjoyment than the depressing nature of the stories is that I didn’t feel the stories were complete I screamed out for just one resolution Not only did I get no happy endings I got no endings at all Now perhaps Garner has done this deliberately as some type of intellectual impression we’re supposed to understand But Actually if I was cynical I would say Garner had written scenes for books that had been cut and she’d hoarded them all in a folder until one day some friend suggested she shove them together and sell them to the public as short stories Another thing that annoyed me was the needless graphic terms used in some of the stories I have a potty mouth myself but found the way these words were used had to do with Garner trying to sound edgy than adding to the narrative or characterisation in any way So you see I’m still torn I hate pretentious books and I’m afraid I found this collection of stories fell into that category at times I think if you want to read intelligent reading this collection is perfect but if you want to be entertained not so much 3 and ½ out 5 A new author to me I sometimes think you can get a good insight into a writer through their shorter fiction Unfortunately although she writes expressively with an interesting and stimulating vocabulary with the eye of a poet I struggled with the proseWith short sentences and a clipped observation narrative I felt at a distance unable to engage with characters or be movedMaybe this is harsh and will set fans of Helen screaming at my review I would welcome a fresh idea of how best to be won over and of course I will not give in I will dip in to this diverse set of short stories and hope all things will click in that momentSuggestions and recommendations gratefully encouraged but I have accessible authors to read just now Finely crafted and beautifully observed with enough little jolts to continually delight; in other words vintage Garner Even if you already own the two collections that comprise Stories Postcards from Surfers and My Hard Heart it's well worth investing in this truly gorgeous volume ‘Everything is spoken nothing is said’This is one of two books published to celebrate Helen Garner’s seventy fifth birthday in 2017 This book is by far the smaller book of the two the other book ‘True Stories The Collected Short Non Fiction’ is around 800 pages This book with its fourteen stories contains just over 200 pagesI’ve read this book twice It takes me longer to read Ms Garner’s fiction I need to work hard for my understanding of it Not I hasten to say because of Ms Garner’s writing No it’s because most of these stories have many layers and in order to appreciate the whole story I need to identify the different parts There are no perfect characters nor are there any stereotypes in Ms Garner’s fiction Each character has a past and a purpose The future may be less certain as in many stories the characters are anxiously navigating the present We meet these characters effectively described by Ms Garner we journey alongside them for a while witness an aspect or two of their lives and then part company There are no neat conclusions and no complicated backstories And I think that is one of the reasons I find Ms Garner’s fiction harder work Not because I need conclusions and backstories but because given an opportunity I will try to imagine them for myself Ms Garner’s short story has finished on the page but sometimes it is still taking place in my mind Right now I’m still in Surfers ‘Postcards from Surfers’ knitting contributing my own monologueJennifer Cameron Smith I listened to this collection as an audio book in the car Some of the stories were like old friends But some were new to me The greatest feature of this audio book was hearing the author read them herself How lucky are we that Garner celebrates her birthday with a book for us While I often think short stories aren’t for me I love those from Garner