Daily Archives: December 5, 2016

‘Everywhere I Look’ by Helen Garner


2016, 240 p.

When I checked out how many Helen Garner books I’d reviewed on this blog there are five, which makes her (along with Kate Atkinson) the author I’ve read most often in the last eight years. I read others of hers, too, read before I started blogging. It’s no secret that I very much enjoy her writing and feel a sense of wary affinity with her, bolstered by being much the same age and a fellow-Melburnian.

This book differs from the others I’ve reviewed in that it is a collection of her essays, several of which I have read before in the Monthly. None of them are particularly long and they offer a slice of perspective and a way of looking, as the title suggests. She has a penetrating intensity that disguises itself as a general-looking-around. I find myself wishing that I could discipline myself to look more carefully and thoughtfully, instead of just letting things wash over me.

As with short stories, it’s hard to talk about essays, because each one stands on its own two feet and it feels almost unfair to single one out above the others. A collection of essays, just as with short stories, does not just fall together but is instead a curated arrangement and selection.  This is particularly apparent in this book, which is divided into six parts. Continue reading