Helen Garner Watch #7

Reviews of The Spare Room

"Publisher's Weekly": "Garner (Monkey Grip) employs her signature realism in this stunted novel about the infuriating and eye-opening experience of caring for a terminally ill loved one."
Madeleine Keane, who is literary editor of "The Sunday Independent" chose the book as one of her books of the year: "The Spare Room by Helen Garner (Cangonate) was an exquisitely-crafted novel which dealt with death -- and the indignities and injustices of cancer -- delicately and unflinchingly with humour and humanity. An overlooked gem."
Natasha on "The Book Crowd" weblog: "I read this book in one night, do I need to say anymore?...I loved this book, the emotions and frustrations seemed quite real, it was a brilliant read that opened my mind to new ways of thinking, living, feeling and understanding."
Harriet Klausner on the "Genre Go Round" weblog: "Although Helen's eternal squabbling and lecturing become irritating as she either needs to support her friend's dying wishes, which centers on miracle treatments that probably will fail or toss her out, readers will relish this poignant character study as the reactions to how to behave when pending death seems shortly."
Keri on the "bloody_keri" weblog: "This is a beautiful, haunting novel that feels like a rare jewel in that way some books do. It's too brief, and that's the first compliment I give it, a rare one given the simple yet devastating subject matter: a woman caring for a friend who is dying in the last stages of cancer. Not something I would normally want to dig into for too long and generally, the more abbreviated the better. Death is easy; the process of dying is one of those unspeakable things; the enormous white elephant in the room. Many writers have touched it, some with more success than others, but I don't think any book I've read on the subject captures the jarring mix of comedy, love and grief this one does."
Simon Savidge on the "Savidge Reads" weblog: "Well to say that I agree with all the praise from the other book bloggers have been giving this would be an understatement, in fact to say that I was blown away by it would be a complete understatement. Like many others I don't know how this didn't get onto the Man Booker long or short list." Simon also prints both the UK hardback and paperback covers for this book. The hardback is a realistic interpretation of the Text Publishing cover but the paperback has taken a different tack, one that I think is rather boring. As Simon asks, "why have they given it a new cover that simply doesn't make sense for a spare room and I can't see a single man reading on the tube etc."

Review of The Children's Bach

"The Resident Judge of Port Phillip": "I think that brevity is an intrinsic feature of this book. Like a small Bach piece, it is short and self contained, simple and yet complex. It takes a slice of life in 1980s Melbourne, and in this regard, Garner's keen observations almost provide an ethnographic (and now historical!) artefact...This is not the stuff of crashing drama: it's lived-in life, with fallible and flawed human people, mess, and making do."

Review of The Feel of Steel

Anne-Marie on the "Archives Tragic" weblog: "Helen Garner's essay collection The Feel of Steel has been republished by Picador this year and it brings forth again her lovely piece 'Woman in a green mantle'. Garner's work holds appeal for archives tragics in something like the way that Janet Malcolm's does. Wide and acute observation is bound to bring out, somewhere along the line, insights about the records and record-creation parts of our lives."


Video of the author being interviewed by Richard Fidler, on "The Conversation Hour", ABC Radio, dated 8 December 2008.


Suse recounts an anecdote from a friend about the origins of a character's name in Monkey Grip.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on January 13, 2009 10:46 AM.

Australian Bookcovers #144 - The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard was the previous entry in this blog.

Combined Reviews: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas is the next entry in this blog.

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