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Monday, November 8, 2021

'That Point of No Return'

“I think that there must be a point of self-immersion in a story that is a point of no return. You get far enough in that the story has really touched you to the core and deeply troubled you and made you unhappy and fearful, and then how do you get out of that? I'm a writer, so my way of getting out of that is to write.” – Helen Garner

Born in Australia on Nov. 7, 1942 Garner is known for incorporating and adapting her personal experiences into her fiction, something that has brought her both praise and criticism, particularly with her novels, Monkey Grip and The Spare Room. 

Award-winning for both her fiction and nonfiction (she also has won acclaim for her screenwriting), she said “I think some people wished I'd kept myself out of the book. But I kind of insist on it because I want the reader to share my engagement with the material, if you like, not pretend that I'm doing it completely intellectually."
While some critics have been disdainful of                         
her work, others have heaped praise like this comment by Don Anderson:  “There are four perfect short novels in the English language.  They are, in chronological order, Ford Maddox Ford’s The Good Soldier, Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and Garner's The Children's Bach.”

Winner of the prestigious Windham-Campbell Literary Prize (from the U.S.) for lifetime achievement in non-fiction, she also won the Lifetime Achievement in Literature from the Australian Council & the Lloyd O’Neil Award and Hall of Fame honors from the Australian Book Industry for her work.

“Writers seem to me to be people who need to retire from social life and do a lot of thinking about what's happened - almost to calm themselves,” she once said.  “I think writers are very anxious.”

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