POSTCARDS FROM SURFERS book cover   Postcards from Surfers
Helen Garner

Dustjacket synopsis:
"How can people be so sure of the boundary betrween land and sea that they have the confidence to build houses on it? The white doorsteps of the ocean travel and travel.

"Eleven stories about the complexities of life and love, of looking back and longing; of what it means to be a stranger, on foreign ground and known, told with the piercing familiarity and resonance we have come to expect from Garner."

"Garner has always had a mimic's ear for dialogue and an eye for unconscious symbolism, the clothes and gestures, with which we give ourselves away." - Peter Craven, Australian
"In these stories readres are pitched into the middle of lives, fleeting insight colliding with the humdrum." - Marianne Brace, The Independent

Postcards from Surfers
The Dark, the Light
In Paris
Little Helen's Sunday Afternoon
La Chance Existe
The Life of Art
All Thise Bloody Young Catholics
A Thousand Miles from the Ocean
Did He Pay?
Civilisation and its Discontents
A Happy Story

First Paragraph from the Title Story:

We are driving north from Coolangatta airport. Beside the road the ocean heaves and heaves into waves which do not break. The swells are dotted with boardriders in black wet-suits, grim as sharks.

'Look at those idiots,' says my father.

'They must be freezing,'says my mother.

'But what about the principle of the wet-suit?' I say. 'Isn't there a thin layer of water between your skin and the suit, and your body heat. . .'

'Could be,'says my father.

The road takes a sudden swing round a rocky outcrop. Miles ahead of us, blurred in the milky air, I see a dream city: its cream, its silver, its turquoise towers thrust in a cluster from a distant spit.

'What - is that Brisbane?' 1 say.

'No,' says my mother. 'That's Surfers.'

My father's car has a built-in computer. If he exceeds the speed limit, the dashboard emits a discreet but insistent pinging. Lights flash, and the pressure of his right foot lessens. He controls the windows from a panel between the two front seats. We cruise past a Valiant parked by the highway with a F0R SALE sign propped in its back window.

'Look at that,'says my mother.'A WA number-plate. Probably thrashed it across the Nuilarbor and now they reckon they'll flog it.'

'Pro'ly stolen,' says my father. 'See the sticker? ALL Y0U VIRGINS, THANKS FOR NOTHING. You can just see what sort of a pin'ead he'd be. Brain the size of a pea.'

From the Penguin paperback edition, 1996.

This page and its contents are copyright © 2002 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

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Last modified: May 12, 2002.