Everywhere I Look

Helen Garner is the writer I admire most in the world, full stop. I love her sinewy, finely balanced sentences (she says she learned from Janet Malcolm 'to make her verbs work hard), her pitiless eye, her wry compassion, the lacerating honesty that spares no one, least of all herself.

Everywhere I Look is a collection of short pieces, many of which I've read before in the pages of The Monthly magazine. (When a copy of The Monthly arrives in our house, I always check eagerly whether there's a Helen Garner piece in that issue.) It includes extracts from her diary - my god, how much would I love to read the whole thing? Some people are discomfited by the way Garner includes herself in what she writes, but to me it seems the most honest and the hardest stance. I wish I had the discipline and the gift for words, the gift of observation, that Garner has.

But I think if I were to meet her, I would be a little bit scared of that merciless gaze. She can be so tender and so humorous, but she reaches for anger quickly, far more quickly than I do. She has a gift for rage, and as she grows older, she is less prepared to censor herself. Which makes her exhilarating to read, but possibly a terrifying friend.

I wish Everywhere I Look was three times longer. In heaven, there will be a new Helen Garner book every week.

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