Helen Garner Watch #3

Reviews of The Spare Room

Kerryn Goldsworthy writes a long piece about the novel, concentrating on the concept of "Friendship". She has indicated she intends a follow-up posting about "Faith".

Marion McLeod in the "New Zealand Listener".

Helen Garner came to Writers and Readers Week at the New Zealand International Arts Festival in Wellington in 2006. She arrived late because a friend in Sydney had died. The Spare Room is the story of that friend's dying, or rather of the time she spent staying with "Helen" in Melbourne while undergoing treatment for advanced cancer. The Spare Room is billed as Garner's first novel in 15 years. So I'm wrong to make this assumption, though the dates certainly fit. And for all I know, much of the detail is invented, though I don't believe that for a minute: this prose has the ring of "reality fiction". Let's just note that similarities between author and narrator abound. Let's call it autobiographical fiction.

Kerry O'Brien spoke to the author for ABC TV's "7:30 Report".

KERRY OBRIEN: With everything that you now have behind you and with what you still have to look ahead to, are you content? Has yours been a life not wasted?

HELEN GARNER: I hope. I tell you one thing that makes me feel I haven't wasted my life and that is I've got some grandchildren. You can't overestimate the kind of opening to the future that gives a person, I think. You sometimes think, "Well, OK, that's something I've done and they're walking around over there and when I die they're going to be still walking around over there, God willing" and that's a wonderful feeling of freedom.

Diana Symonds on the Stage Noise website.
Q: When you write "The end" -- or the equivalent -- are you happy?elieved? Sad? Disbelieving?

A: First, disbelieving. When you're writing a book you can get lost in your struggle to make it work. You think you'll never fight your way out. The day I realized I'd finished The Spare Room I sat there staring at the screen. Then I started bawling. Then I felt as light as a feather. I jumped on my bike and rode home. All the way I thought I was going to take off, I was so free. I mean free of duty. It was glorious. It lasted twenty minutes, till I hopped off my bike on the front veranda. Then I felt ordinary again.

Other The ... between bourke 'n' elizabeth ..." website reports on Garner's discussion with Caroline Baum at the Sydney Writers' Festival.

Garner is interviewed as she watches rehearsals of a stage adaptation of her short novel, The Children's Bach.

Garner has no involvement with the project except having given the group her permission to adapt the book and her blessing. "When I walked in there this morning, I suppose I wasn't really expecting to feel anything particular," she says. "I thought that it would be an intellectual experience, but when (one of the main characters) Dexter stood up and sang, this rush of emotion came over me and it plunged me into the past. "Because people that you've written about die. The idea that Dexter, that character that I wrote, that a young man who's young enough to be the real Dexter's son, is now getting up and singing ... that's very thrilling to me."
Slow TV has a streaming video of Helen Garner's talk about
her influences and inspirations from the 2008 Sydney Writers' Festival.

"Crikey" reports on ASIO's loss of focus during the 1970s. As an example there is a copy of part of Helen Garner's file.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on June 24, 2008 11:36 AM.

The Sentimental Bloke Film was the previous entry in this blog.

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