Helen Garner

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Helen Garner in 2015

Helen Garner (born November 7, 1942) is an Australian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist.


  • 'He claims,' said Jenny tactfully, 'That he flew through a radioactive cloud thirty years ago and that it didn't do him any harm - thus it's all right to mine uranium. A fine piece of Australian political reasoning.'
    • Page 6.
  • 'What's funny?' said Pin, shifting uncomfortably in the hospital bed.
'I was looking at your mouth. It's exactly the same as mine.'
'Small and mean,' said Pin, whose devotion to the church did not damp her vulgar sense of humour. 'Wanna see a cat's bum?' She pursed her lips into a tight bunch. They snickered in the quiet ward.
'You'll never go to heaven,' said Kathleen. 'You're rude.'
  • Page 21.
  • 'Didn't this used to be our dining-room table back at Sutherland Street, Frank?' said Kathleen.
'Yep. Four dollars at the Anchorage, remember? That was when I cornered the market in cane chairs, too.'
'Come off it! We only had three.'
'Yes, but the price had doubled by the following Saturday.'
  • Page 26.

Other Peoples Children (1980)

  • Revolution begins in the kitchen.
  • 'In my profession I have learned that women can bear more pain than men.'
'Are you a doctor, sir?'
'No. A shoe repairer.'
  • Page 123.
  • 'Course I care. I always care. But there's no point in making a song and dance about it, like that night he stayed here. Know something? There's only one thing that'll bring 'em back, and that's indifference. The one thing you can't fake.'
'But you are faking it.'
'At the moment I might be. But as soon as it stops being faked and starts being real, he'll turn up. Rule number one of modern life.'
  • Page 80.

A volume of short stories.

  • Her handwriting in these pencilled jottings, made forty-five years ago, is exactly as it is today: this makes me suspect, when I am not with her, that she is a closet intellectual.
    • In the title story Postcards from Surfers.
    • Garner describing her mother.

A collection of three linked stories, Recording Angel, A Vigil, and Cosmo Cosmolino.

Recording Angel part:

  • 'That,' I said, 'would be a blessing. There are so many things I'd like to forget I hardly know what would be left standing, if I ever got started.'
    • Page 4.
  • On Melbourne summer mornings the green trams go rolling in stately progress down tunnels thick with leaves: the bright air carries along the avenue their patient chime, the chattering of their wheels
    • Page 5.
  • 'It's rather like a Poe story, isn't it,' said Patrick luxuriously, unfocusing his eyes. 'A person sees the chance of a better life passing by, and he makes as if to call out' - he flung one arm in the imploring gesture of a soul in torment - 'but something in his nature makes him hesitate. He pauses ... he closes his lips ... he steps back ... and then he slides down, and down, and down.'
    • Page 8.
  • And always Melbourne, Melbourne, Melbourne, over and over the same photo in glaring greens and reds, of a tram, huffy, blunderous, manoeuvring itself with pole akimbo round the tight corner where Bourke Street enters Spring.
    • Page 14, postcards the narrator sent.

Cosmo Cosmolino section:

  • Ideas came swarming through her, and like many people who labour in the obsession of solitude, she lacked the detachment to challenge them.
    • Page 57, describing Maxine.
  • 'Crap,' said Janet. 'He was a whinger and he wrote it down. That's not poetry.'
    • Page 78.
  • 'The devil's everywhere,' he said. 'Not just at Brunswick one day and somewhere else the next. He's everywhere.'
    • Page 101.
  • The rain began again. It fell heavily, easily, with no meaning or intention but the fulfilment of its own nature, which was to fall and fall.
    • Page 150.
  • Out in deep space the planets sweep, inexorable, along their splendid orbits. Maxine bowed her head. From now on she would take the gods' dictation.
    • Page 166.
  • Our minds are not hopeful, thought Janet; but our nerves are made of optimistic stuff.
    • Page 221.
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