Born Sticky Beak: Helen Garner

Born Sticky Beak: Helen Garner

Helen GarnerBorn: 7 November, 1942 (age 75)

Childhood: The eldest of six children, Garner grew up in Geelong, Victoria, where she attended high school.

Best known for: Perhaps Garner’s most notorious and controversial book is The First Stone: some questions of sex and power, which is an account of a 1982 sexual harassment scandal at Ormond College, one of the residential colleges of the University of Melbourne. It was criticised because the two students who made the sexual harassment allegations refused to meet with Garner, and many parts of the story had been fictionalised. She was also condemned by many Australian feminists for claiming the appropriate response to being groped is ‘a slap in the face,’ not a police complaint.

How many books published: She has written more than fifteen books, including short story collections, fiction, and non-fiction.

Most recent book: True Stories and Stories.

How Helen Garner became a writer: Although Garner wrote smaller pieces earlier in her life, it was her first novel Monkey Grip (1977) that announced her as one of Australia’s most contemporary and thoughtful writers at the time. Monkey Grip tells the story of a single-mother Nora, who falls in love with a heroin addict while trying to raise her daughter in a share house in Melbourne during the late 1970s. In an interview after the book’s publication, she admitted that the majority of her book had been adapted directly from her personal diary.

Star Sign: Pisces

Quotable quotes: ‘I like poking my nose into other people’s lives.’ 

Interests: Reading, of course. Garner also lives next door to her grandchildren and loves having them float in and out of her house.

Did you know? In 1972, Garner was fired from her teaching position because she delivered an unscheduled, frank sex education lesson to her 13-year-old students at Fitzroy High School. She documents the experience in her short non-fiction story The Schoolteacher, which is published in her most recent collection True Stories.

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      Synopsis

      This new edition of Helen Garner’s collected short fiction celebrates the seventy-fifth birthday of one of Australia’s most loved authors.These stories - that delve into the complexities of love and longing, of the pain, darkness and joy of life - are all told with her characteristic sharpness of observation, honesty and humour. Each one a perfect piece, together they showcase Garner’s mastery of the form.About the author Helen Garner's first novel, Monkey Grip, was published in 1977, an immediately established her as an original voice on the Australian literary scene. She is known for incorporating and adapting her personal experiences in her fiction, something that has brought her both praise and criticism, particularly with her novels, Monkey Grip and The Spare Room. Throughout her career, Garner has written both fiction and non-fiction. She attracted controversy with her book The First Stone about a sexual harassment scandal in a university college. She has also written for film and theatre, and has consistently won awards for her work.In subsequent books, she has continued to adapt her personal experiences. Her later novels include The Children's Bach and Cosmo Cosmolino. In 2008 she returned to fiction writing with the publication of The Spare Room, a fictional treatment of caring for a dying cancer patient, based on the illness and death of Garner's friend Jenua Osborne. She has also published several short story collections: Honour and Other People's Children: two stories, Postcards from Surfers and My Hard Heart: Selected Fictions.

      Publisher details

      Synopsis

      An extraordinary book of collected short non-fiction, spanning fifty years of work, by one of Australia’s great writers.Helen Garner visits the morgue, and goes cruising on a Russian ship. She sees women giving birth, and gets the sack for teaching her students about sex. She attends a school dance and a gun show.She writes about dreaming, about turning fifty, and the storm caused by The First Stone. Her story on the murder of the two-year-old Daniel Valerio wins her a Walkley Award.Garner looks at the world with a shrewd and sympathetic eye. Her non-fiction is always passionate and compelling.About the author Helen Garner's first novel, Monkey Grip, was published in 1977, an immediately established her as an original voice on the Australian literary scene. She is known for incorporating and adapting her personal experiences in her fiction, something that has brought her both praise and criticism, particularly with her novels, Monkey Grip and The Spare Room. Throughout her career, Garner has written both fiction and non-fiction. She attracted controversy with her book The First Stone about a sexual harassment scandal in a university college. She has also written for film and theatre, and has consistently won awards for her work.In subsequent books, she has continued to adapt her personal experiences. Her later novels include The Children's Bach and Cosmo Cosmolino. In 2008 she returned to fiction writing with the publication of The Spare Room, a fictional treatment of caring for a dying cancer patient, based on the illness and death of Garner's friend Jenua Osborne. She has also published several short story collections: Honour and Other People's Children: two stories, Postcards from Surferers and My Hard Heart: Selected Fictions.
      Helen Garner
      About the author

      Helen Garner

      Helen Garner was born in 1942 in Geelong, and was educated there and at Melbourne University. She taught in Victorian secondary schools until 1972, when she was dismissed for answering her students’ questions about sex, and had to start writing journalism for a living.Her first novel, Monkey Grip, came out in 1977, won the 1978 National Book Council Award, and was adapted for film in 1981. Since then she has published novels, short stories, essays, and feature journalism. Her screenplay The Last Days of Chez Nous was filmed in 1990. Garner has won many prizes, among them a Walkley Award for her 1993 article about the murder of two-year-old Daniel Valerio. In 1995 she published The First Stone, a controversial account of a Melbourne University sexual harassment case. Joe Cinque’s Consolation (2004) was a non-fiction study of two murder trials in Canberra.In 2006 Helen Garner received the inaugural Melbourne Prize for Literature. Her most recent novel, The Spare Room (2008), won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Queensland Premier’s Award for Fiction and the Barbara Jefferis Award, and has been translated into many languages.Helen Garner lives in Melbourne.

      Books by Helen Garner

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