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Myth–archetype–story–f[r]iction: Helen Garner’s How to End a Story

The third volume of Helen Garner’s diaries, How To End a Story, is a reminder of how affecting books, or art and culture more widely, are. This is art, as Elizabeth Grosz writes via Gilles Deleuze, as an ‘enhancement or intensification of bodies’, an ‘elaboration of sensations.’

This third diary is also disturbing and difficult to read. The marriage of Helen (H, HG) and V (writer Murray Bail), her third and his second respectively, combusts in a blistering conflagration. This bonfire in the heart of the diary is wearying. Garner is constantly antagonistic towards Bail, writing untempered negative representations of him. This antagonism is despite her reaction to an essay in Bodyjamming, about The First Stone, as ‘a malicious personal attack on me … the sort of character-destroying lies one could sue about.’

This volume of the diaries came out during a minor conflagration on Twitter about autofiction, creative nonfiction and plagiarism bound up with two short stories ‘Cat Person’ and ‘The Kindest’, the content of which two other writers claimed to have been ‘stolen’ from their real lives, and the ubiquity of the terms ‘gaslighting’ and ‘cancel culture’ about public naming and shaming. Helen here is a vengeful Valkyrie, as histrionic as I imagine a Wagnerian opera to be. In the climax of the volume, Helen goes ‘berserk’ (her term) in the kitchen, V’s work room and their bedroom.

Soup, coffee cups, butter all over the cupboard front … I get from the bedroom the Armani scarf he gave me … and cut it into pieces … and pour a bottle of ink on top of it … I wrench the cap off his Mont Blanc fountain pen and stab the proof [of his fucking novel] with the nib, gripping the pen in my fist the like a dagger. I stab and stab, I press and screw and grind.

This berserking may have been a fiction, a desire incarnated in the diaries, akin to my hallucinatory experience in the National Library of Australia while working on Bail’s correspondence in his archives: I had a stray thought that the letters to him about Eucalyptus by male fan readers were in fact a Bail-created fiction, so much were their writers like Holland and Mr Cave in the novel—and indeed any other fixated, narrowly minded white Anglo-Saxon male in a Bail novel.   

Opera, as a trope, came to mind for a few reasons. Bernadette Brennan likened the narrative of Joe Cinque’s Consolation to arias performed in eighteenth-century opera. In Garner’s ‘Recording Angel’, one of two stories preceding her novel Cosmo Cosmolino, Wagner is mentioned:

Soon after the collapse of my last attempt at marriage, when it did not appear to matter much which city I was in, I passed through Sydney and called … on my old friend Patrick, to tell him … my Auntie Dot had died …

‘Her hairdos,’ I said, ‘were Wagnerian.’

This quote is telling for more than its reference to opera: it displays Garner’s highly personal bent in fiction. Her first two marriages did not last, and her ‘old friend’ is based on Axel Clark (see Brennan). The story caused a fallout between Garner and another friend, most probably Axel’s wife Alison (R), mentioned in the second diary.

… V reports a conversation with R. ‘I told her that everybody … wrote about real people’. She said, “Yes, but he [Axel Clark] finds it hard, out there in the open.” I asked her about you … She said it was part of her growing up—she felt she had to move on.’

Bail’s self-portrait He. also engaged with opera. The narrator of He.—who is not named but is Bail, or a version of him—is said to be impressed by a performance of Wagner’s Meistersinger to which his first wife, a rational version of a woman scorned, took him, for his birthday, after they separated. Wagner became the composer Bail concentrated on. Formerly, he had shunned opera because it was ‘antique and exaggerated’. In her third diary, Garner records attending opera three times, and there are mentions in the other diaries. (My own experience of ‘traditional’ opera, as audience member and usherette, was as an abnormality: I was beleaguered intellectually by the cast singing the plot. But I came to understand it more through contemporary opera, such as Nixon in China.)

Garner’s three diaries do form a three-act staging. Helen meets V in the penultimate year of the first volume. Her contemplation of him opens the second volume, which also reveals early tensions in the relationship and marriage.

To read the third diary as fiction is less heartbreaking, the main characters being H and V. However, although in interviews about the volume both Garner and her interviewers refer only to V, in an interview with Nicole Abadee, Garner (inadvertently?) says ‘Murray’.

Garner did subtitle the third diary How To End a Story, with the implication that ‘story’ means fiction, but she has also titled a collection of creative nonfiction True Stories, with the implication that fiction can be factual. (This from a past winner of the international Windham-Campbell Prize for nonfiction.) Garner has used the character ‘Helen’ before—for example, in the short story ‘Little Helen’, and the novel The Spare Room. In an article in the literary journal Meanjin, Garner said that the ‘I’ in a diary is a created persona; it has to be invented. Brennan declared Garner a boundary-crosser, refusing the constraints of literary genre.

‘All narratives are tendentious,’ critic James Ley wrote.

They are, as William Gass said, ‘sneaky justifications’ … Their truth is always provisional and subjective. There is no way around this … By being railroaded into a narrative, autobiography becomes fictionalised. This is not to say that memoirists are liars … but simply that their works are rhetorically indistinguishable from fiction and demand the same kind of interpretation, the same scrutiny of a self that is ultimately an image, false, like all images.

An epiphany about genre’s unboundedness arose for me from theories of the author function, intertextuality and genre itself. The dividing line between fiction and creative nonfiction is difficult to hold firm—not to mention between fiction and nonfiction when you’re reading, for example, institutional governance documents, governmental policy, or instruction manuals for digital devices. Writer Brian Castro claims that the innate oppositional practice or intent for (creative) writing is to cross the boundaries set up by genre, because classifications demolish nuances, imprisoning them in the expected. Ley says of hybrid literary works that they ‘explore the limits of expression and thus the boundaries of the self.’ All narrative is shaped and structured, and uses language. Of the latter, poet Stuart Cooke writes that it is ‘rarely the case’ that human language produces ‘intelligible semantic content’; the ‘material of language’ is a ‘complex assemblage of entangled gestures and inscriptions.’

In an interview about He. with Jasper Lindell for The Canberra Times, Bail queried genre: ‘[D]o you think it’s fiction? … I did use bits of timing and placement of things to form an overall narrative … It ends up reading like a story, doesn’t it?’ The implication here being that Bail wants it read as fiction. Lindell says it isn’t fiction, but he goes on to use the term ‘story’.

‘Hybrid creations are not singular’ says Bail’s wannabe-philosopher protagonist in The Pages. I take this as a negative comment on hybridity, since, generally, singularity is seen as original and unique, and since, specifically, the protagonist follows this with ‘they do not last’, commenting on ‘hybrid ewes and calves … struggling with five legs or … pink eyes’ he had seen on farms. Yet Bail’s own works build via intertextual referencing, the most obvious being the short story ‘The Drover’s Wife’, a response to Russell Drysdale’s painting and Henry Lawson’s short story of the same name, and the novel Eucalyptus filtered through fairy-tale and myth. But then in Bail’s novel Eucalyptus, Holland—a collector of eucalypts, whose species number more than 900—writes ‘nothing is one’.

All of the above is far easier to quote than negotiate in order to come to some operational meaning or procedure for genre. Garner has made strong comments about ‘making things up’: in the first diary she writes that she was scared to go to her office in case she couldn’t ‘imagine’. Journalist Kate Legge noted Garner saying that ‘nothing sets her teeth on edge so much as the “revving and grinding of someone’s imagination as they’re trying to make things up”.’ The simplest thing to say is that the diaries are a one-sided perspective on ‘reality’.

*

As a fan, I anticipated the Garner diaries with curiosity and some anxiety, for what happens next. One reader, bookbird64, recorded a similar reaction on Instagram: ‘having felt amputated when Volume 2 ended, I was poised to read Vol 3 ASAP… (Those diaries are literary coke, I reckon.)’. Waiting on the diaries to be published over three years was akin to the consumption of the radio and television fiction I grew up on as a baby-boomer.

In waiting on, then reading the first diary, my fandom shifted from something benign to overzealousness, if not derangement: the first thing I did was seek out references to Murray Bail, and then re-read Bail’s Notebooks, his diaries, to find references to Garner.

Garner’s third diary deflated the excruciatingly naive affect of fandom, bringing the Valkyrie down to ordinary human dimensions. I am grateful, therefore, for the volume. I’m giving hero/ines up as a consequence. Such worship circumscribes the humanity (specifically its defining imperfection) of both the self and the putative hero/ine.

The third Garner diary was also andragogic in making me fully conscious of the depicted independence of certain female characters in Bail’s fiction.

In Holden’s Performance, Mrs Shadbolt, Holden’s mother, loses her husband, Holden’s father, to a tram accident, and, though taking on another paramour, she eventually comes to run a café with a fortune-telling side-line. In the same novel, Harriet Chandler, a young, single woman with polio, runs her own freelance career, drives a modified Mayflower and seemingly owns her own house (see also my short novel Harriet Chandler); while Mrs Younghusband, who lost her husband in the second World War, runs a boarding house. Even Ellen in Eucalyptus, who is put-upon by her father seeking to marry her off to the man who can name all of his property’s eucalypts, is independent: pursuing wanderings on the property and an imaginative life.

Erica in The Pages is single and an academic/professional philosopher. In the short story ‘The Seduction of My Sister’, the sister, Glenys, finally breaks free of seeking the approval of her brother, the narrator, to take up with the boy next door, Gordon, whom her brother competes with in a sporting-like venture in which the brother loses the possibility of his sister’s close companionship. He openly admits that he is ‘careless with possessions’.

Bail is critical of women: Garner says in the third diary that, in an argument with him, she wondered ‘if in the end he was trying to argue me round to the point at which women can’t be artists.’ He disapproved of her therapy despite him appearing to have had as much difficulty with his father (as illustrated in He.) as Garner did with hers. Bail is usually unsmiling and close-lipped in photographic portraits, and when he shows Garner a photograph of his father, she reacts: ‘his face … hard, clamped, full of some terrible inward-turned power—like someone who could have died of bottled-up emotion’. I suspect Bail has made critical remarks, mildly sneering, though sparingly and no naming nor alphabetical title, of Garner in his notebooks. This is possibly one reference to Garner, or the way I imagine her to be: ‘she cleaned her teeth vigorously, the way she tore open envelopes.’

Ellen in Eucalyptus could be based on Garner. Bail may have obtained his accurate descriptions of her depression from Garner, who had a year scouring similar emotional territory after her second marriage broke up in 1985. Kerryn Goldsworthy, in her monograph on Garner, quotes her describing herself as ‘all over the map … crawling …. it seemed to me that I was … finished in some way.’ In 1986, Bail may have encountered Garner (see chronology below) as she suffered for residual post-breakup depression. In 1993, roughly seven years into her relationship with Bail, which lasted around eleven years, she is suffering through the fallout of The First Stone, and questioning the validity of her interpretations and her feminism: ‘I crawled into bed … lost in shame and sadness’.

Before 1998, when their marriage broke up, Bail complains about her sadness. In Eucalyptus, published in 1998, Ellen gradually becomes more distressed as her patrilineal-arranged marriage gets closer. Janet in Cosmo Cosmolino is similar to Garner (as are Kath in Honour and Elizabeth in The Children’s Bach: see my ‘Head Girls and Helen Garner’s Women’): a writer separated from her former partner and living in a shared house. ‘Full of self-disgust, Janet lowered her head on to the tablecloth … and held it there’, or she lies on a sofa, unable to ask for help, ‘with her knees bent and her hands clasped’. In the third diary, Garner writes of a familiar posture of hers: ‘I lie on the couch, knees bent, enduring.’

Bail has relentlessly scathed the Anglo-Saxon Australian male in his novels (for example, Holden’s Performance). He is critical of himself in Notebooks: ‘Today I am sick of my own voice and opinions.’ He says to Garner, as recorded in her second diary, of his own diary publication in 1989: ‘this dreadful person who wrote them: severe, pompous, humourless.’ In He., he expresses significant anxiety about his general state of ‘emotional distance’ which ‘had hardened him unnecessarily. Finally, he understood it to be a form of cheap protection.’ One of the opening lines of He. reads as follows: ‘Aged twelve he already has a certain earnestness, the solemnity, trying to comprehend what is incomprehensible.’ This is what makes He. revelatory, a door opening on vulnerability, while Garner’s How To End a Story is a closing one.

*

In her creative nonfiction piece ‘The Insults of Age’, Garner performs an old woman now completely abandoning the imprisoning quality of false propriety. She seizes a young schoolgirl’s ‘ponytail at the roots’, giving it ‘a sharp downward yank’, after the girl’s racist, and ageist, behaviour in public. Garner’s self-describes here too as ‘berserk’.

On the year of the third diary’s publication, another micro conflagration took place on social media over the timidity of contemporary fiction publishing. Literary critic Dustin Illingworth commented cannily: ‘In lieu of struggling toward a form commensurate with the time, the prose of even our short-listed books is so frictionless as to be ignorable. The novel creeps ever closer to … bingeable content.’

The diaries are bingeable, now the three are out together. While they’re not frictionless, they could be read as fiction, as suggested above, especially in mythic and archetypical dimensions (something the literary critic Susan Wyndham alerted me to via Twitter).

The pertinent archetypes are (1) the often quoted ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’; (2) a woman writer in need of a room of her own à la Virginia Woolf (Garner, forced to leave the shared flat with Bail so he can work alone during the day, hires office space.); and (3) the women in an artist–patriarch’s household subjugated to the demands of the patriarch’s artistic practice. Concerning the last item, a mention of Ford Maddox Ford on social media around the time of the publication of the third diary recalled for me the pleasure of reading Drawn from Life: A Memoir by Stella Bowen, who lived with the demanding Ford. ‘Ford never understood why I found it so difficult to paint whilst I was with him’; it was because she was tending to his needs. Drusilla Modjeska’s Stravinsky’s Lunch was about that territory for Bowen and another painter, Grace Cossington-Smith. The title refers to Stravinsky’s insistence that his family eat their lunch in silence, because any noise would interrupt his concentration on composition. Garner compares notes with a friend who was married to a painter. ‘Like me, she is expected to run the house … all this without being permitted on the premises during work hours.’ In the second diary, V admits to never having made a salad or cleaned a toilet. Garner notes beginning to understand women who stay with men who are violent to them: ‘the shock … the dissolving into grief and shame …the nostalgia for past happiness.’

A chronology within the diaries would have explained much. I drew up one because I was distracted and frustrated during my reading, curious about alphabetised names, and constantly looking up the dates of Garner’s and Bail’s publications.

Pre-diaries

1967       Murray Bail marries Margaret Wordsworth.

1968       Helen Ford marries Bill Garner.

1975       Bail’s Contemporary Portraits and Other Stories published.

1977       Monkey Grip published.

First diary begins

1978      First year of first diary: Yellow Notebook: Diaries volume 1 1978-1987. Some possibilities for some of the alphabetised characters: F: Garner’s second husband Jean-Jacques Portail; M: Garner’s daughter Alice; O: Garner’s friend Axel Clark; P: a model for the visual artist friend in Garner’s ‘Life of Art’; V: Garner’s third husband, the writer Murray Bail; Y: publisher/editor Di Gribble; Z: David Malouf.

1980      Honour and Other People’s Children published. Garner marries Portail. Bail’s Homesickness published.

1981      Bail’s Ian Fairweather published. Possibly, marriage to Portail breaking up.

1983      Garner writes The Children’s Bach.

1984      The Children’s Bach published.

1985      Postcards from Surfers published. The Garner–Portail marriage ends.

1986      Production of Two Friends film. Garner meets Murray Bail, introduced by Malouf at a lunch in his home, Sydney. Garner is 44 and Bail 45. Garner is reading Homesickness.

Second diary begins

1987      Last year of first diary. First year of second diary: One Day I’ll Remember This: Diaries 1987–1995. Bail’s Holden’s Performance published. Notes related to Cosmo in diary. Possibilities for alphabetised characters: E: Drusilla Modjeska; J: Tim Winton; R: Alison Clark, Axel’s wife; ‘the adventurous beauty’: Robyn Davidson.

1988      Bail’s (editor) The Faber Book of Contemporary Australian Short Stories published containing Garner’s ‘The Life of Art’. Bail’s first marriage ends. Garner moves to Sydney. Bail’s Notebooks published 2005 include diary entries from 1988 to 2003. Garner writing Last Days of Chez Nous film script.

1989      Bail’s Longhand: A Writer’s Notebook 1970-1974 published.

1990      Garner writes Cosmo Cosmolino.

1991       Garner moves back to Melbourne with Bail.

1992      Film scripts Last Days of Chez Nous and Two Friends published. Cosmo Cosmolino published. Garner and Bail marry.

1994      Garner moves back to Sydney with Bail.

Third diary begins

1995      Second diary ends. First year of third diary: How to End a Story: Diaries 1995-1998. The First Stone published. Arbitrary and vague possibilities for alphabetised characters: Scrabble player and Chinese expert: Linda Jaivin; My publisher: Hilary McPhee; X: Aida Tomescu; AB: Robyn Davidson

1996      True Stories: Selected Non-fiction published.

1998      Third diary ends. My Hard Heart: Selected Fiction published. End of marriage to Bail, though official divorce is later. Bail’s Eucalyptus and The Drover’s Wife and Other Stories published. Garner is 56 and Bail 57.

Post-diaries

2001       Feel of Steel published containing some pieces about the period immediately after the breakdown of the third marriage—for example, ‘Tower Diary’ and ‘Woman in a Green Mantle’.

2005      Bail’s Notebooks published; they occasionally seem to make reference to Garner.

2019       First diary published.

2020       Second diary published.

2021      Third diary published. Bail’s He. published; it occasionally seems to make reference to Garner.

Looking at this chronology, I feel as if I lay bare, frozen-heartedly, a memento mori for impersonal, disinterested scrutiny, just like an archaeologist unaware of Indigenous cultural propriety surrounding the use of unearthed artefacts. I experience as much horror towards myself as I did towards Garner on reading the third diary (and she toward herself: ‘I’m sick and tired of myself.’). But much of this chronology is in the public realm, and it takes little effort to google successfully with key words—for example, it’s the way I came across Aida Tomescu, whom I assume is X in the diary, a painter, influenced by Fairweather, living in the inner-city of Sydney. 

In the National Library of Australia, in Bail’s freely accessible correspondence, writers Thomas Shapcott and Rodney Hall (1975), and Shirley Hazzard (1987) end their letters with best wishes to Margaret and Bail. In 1988, novelist David Malouf writes to Bail from Italy: ‘Hope you are bearing up’; offers a place ‘if you and she [Helen] wanted to get right away for a bit’; ‘Look after yourself. Hope everything has begun to settle a bit—when do you move into the apartment? Helen has seen it, I know, and thinks it should suit you quite well. Love to Margaret’. Poet Mark Strand offers an (undated) consolation: ‘I’m sorry about you and Margaret. It happens. But you seem to be happy now.’ (What I assume are Garner’s letters to Bail require permission, as do Garner’s. I wouldn’t expect to get it.)

What is clear in the chronology is that Garner was having some kind of relationship with Bail during his marriage. In 1988, she writes: ‘I am always reminding myself that he is not mine, that he belongs to somebody else, that it’s not safe to fantasise being with him always.’ In the first diary, she is in some kind of relationship with L, but a ‘reticent, half-hearted’ one; he is in a similar relationship with another woman; she wants to tell L: ‘I think I’ve fallen in love with someone else.’ In the third diary, Garner believes Bail has been unfaithful, potentially with X, during their marriage, and her secondary problem is that he will not admit it. She does acknowledge that it’s not all Bail’s fault. She ‘wanted so much to be loved’ that she tried to make herself lovable, but instead made herself ‘sick with swallowed rage.’

H does think of V as ‘the love of her life’. Brennan writes: ‘Garner readily admits that Bail influenced her intellectual life’; he expanded her horizons; friends talked of ‘their joy in each other’. Speaking to Hilary Harper on ABC RN’s Life Matters, Garner declares she is not suited to marriage, that it would terrible being married to her, and that she has hurt people.

Garner was an admirer of Janet Malcolm, who died last year, and their nonfiction can perhaps be compared. Writer Richard Beck writes in N+1 that Malcolm allowed her emotional life ‘to flood’ her prose. He declares it is necessary for a writer ‘to accept the violence of your own mind and try to maintain a sense of compassion, both for yourself and for the people you’re writing about, whose lives you will inevitably distort.’ Yet is it not a writer’s proclivity to be part of but outside events in order to observe, remember, and record? As Garner puts it in ‘Woman in a Green Mantle’ (in The Feel of Steel), writers are ‘voracious monsters, ravening beasts who roam the world seeking whom and what they may devour.’ This, in a creative nonfiction piece after the break-up of her marriage.

On reading He., Lindell asks: ‘Can you write knowingly about yourself?’ He insists that Bail does not author his life, but uses memories to create a different kind of revealing self-portrait. ‘Divulging secrets and dropping names isn’t the only way to uncover something of ourselves.’ I interpret this to be a critique of Garner.

V tells Helen that ‘he hated and deplored the thought that she wrote about him.’ But as with Bowen and Ford, H writes that V

will never understand that writing about my life is the only thing that makes it possible for me to live it … Actually I feel real sympathy for him. It must be awful to know his life is being reported through my eyes. It would be awful to be married to me.

However, as noted above, Bail has kept notebooks and published them, also using, albeit sparingly, letters to stand in for names. One such letter is S, whom I assume is Shirley Hazzard. Hazzard wrote to Bail in 1982 about the ‘obsessive flogging of vomit in Australian writing and images.’ In Holden’s Performance (not published until 1987), a drunken cricket team member goes to Manly’s Epic Theatre and vomits in the foyer. In Notebooks, Bail records ‘S’s prissy aversion to vomit.’

Some letters Bail has deposited in his archive are not flattering to their authors. For example, Robyn Davidson is intemperate about Salman Rushdie, and the publishing industry. She receives a letter ‘full of evil intent’ from Rushdie, whom she calls a ‘horrid little fatty,’ and burns it. And of literary agents and publishers, she says: ‘They are all … collections of scum eddying in small stagnant pools.’

While the third Garner diary is dominated by the imploding marriage to Bail, all three volumes contain contextualising cultural and political events. The second diary mentions the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the dismantling of the Berlin wall, the aftermath of the AIDS crisis, and our changing climate.  There’s always family: her mother, father, sisters and especially Garner’s daughter. Regarding the last one, here is one remark: ‘Walking in Paris with M, how easy it is—I drift along, invisible, but attached to her little bubble of beauty.’

There are descriptions of writing and publishing processes: ‘Astonished again by the intense fatigue that hits me after I’ve written a piece of journalism.’ And lyrical responses to nature and place: ‘[a] perfect sunny spring day. A bird calls with a cheerful, plaintive insistence … Dead leaves off a Virginia creeper blow in on a warm breeze.’ Differences between Garner and Bail are oddly symbolised by their feeling at home in Melbourne and Sydney respectively (two traditionally competitive Australian cities), the division between Melbourne (serious) and Sydney (flibbertigibbet) being reversed between Garner and Bail.

The third diary devotes much space to Garner’s therapy sessions. She mentions teaching herself to sew, and buying a machine. My sewing machines are from the dead: close and extended family members. My mother and middle sister were sewers. My plans have included both teaching myself sewing and taking lessons. Bail’s mother was a milliner and did the flowers for the church. My mother, too, was and did.

How would a reader new to Garner receive the diaries? In frame would be the physiognomy of a writing life. The following reading is propaedeutic: Brennan’s A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work, a hybrid of literary criticism and biography (‘Garner’s life and writing inform and shape each other to such a degree that it is not possible to understand one without the other’). Modjeska’s Second Half First (Garner had an office in Modjeska’s house). Michael Ackland’s The Experimental Fiction of Murray Bail, part biography, part literary criticism. Bail’s Fairweather (Bail identifies to some extent with Fairweather: a lover of abstraction, a slow worker, a relative hermit). And He.: a portrait of Bail’s life.

I thought I’d heard or read, somewhere, Garner say in 2021 that she had ‘met another bloke.’ I could have imagined it, but my imagination is wanting and my memory suspect. But then I heard that the relationship between Bail and possibly Aida Tomescu ended, and he went on to partner another woman. As I write this, I’m fully aware of Malcolm’s comment on reading biography as akin to voyeurism. I can hardly stand myself—as Garner said of herself in the first volume of her diary.

While the hardcovers of the first two diary volumes are in the primary colours of sunshine yellow and heart red, the third volume is in coffee, milk chocolate, nut or dirt brown: a composite colour.

 

References

Ackland, M. The Experimental Fiction of Murray Bail. Cambria Press. 2012.
Adams, J and Goodman, A. Nixon in China. 1987.
Bail, M. Fairweather. Bay Books. 1981.
Bail, M. Holden’s Performance. Penguin, 1987.
Bail, M. ‘The Seduction of My Sister’. Picador New Writing 3. B. Yahp and D. Modjeska (eds). Picador. 1995.
Bail, M. Eucalyptus. Text Publishing. 1998.
Bail, M. ‘The Drover’s Wife’. The Drover’s Wife and Other Stories. Text. 1998.
Bail, M. Notebooks 1970-2003. Harvill Secker. 2005.
Bail, M. He. Text Publishing. 2021.
Beck, R. ‘On Janet Malcolm’. N+1. 2021.
Bowen, S. Drawn from Life: A Memoir. Picador. 2002.
Brennan, B. A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work. Text Publishing, 2017.
Castro, B. Looking for Estrellita. University of Queensland Press. 1999.
Costello, M. ‘Head Girls and Helen Garner’s Women’. Imago. 9.3 summer. 1997.
Costello, M. Harriet Chandler. Short Odds Publications. 2014.
Costello, M. ‘Empirical Evidence and Desire’ (review of Yellow Notebook: Diaries Volume I 1978–1987, Helen Garner). TEXT, Vol 24 No 1 April. 2020
Costello, M. ‘Practical Circumstance’ (review of One Day I’ll remember This: Diaries 1987-1995, Helen Garner). TEXT. Vol 25 No1 April. 2021.
Davidson, R. Letter to Murray Bail. Papers of Murray Bail, 1950-2001. National Library of Australia. N.d.
Drysdale, R. The Drover’s Wife. National Gallery of Australia. 1945.
Garner, H. Honour and Other People’s Children. McPhee Gribbl. 1980.
Garner, H. The Children’s Bach. McPhee Gribble. 1984.
Garner, H. ‘Little Helen’. Postcards from Surfers. McPhee Gribble. 1985.
Garner, H. Cosmo Cosmolino. McPhee Gribble/Penguin. 1992.
Garner, H. The First Stone: Some Questions about Sex and Power. Random House. 1997.
Garner, H. ‘Woman in a Green Mantle’. The Feel of Steel. Picador. 2001.
Garner, H. Joe Cinque’s Consolation. Picador. 2004.
Garner, H. The Spare Room. Text Publishing. 2008.
Garner. H. ‘The Insults of Age’. Everywhere I Look. Text Publishing. 2016.
Garner, H. True Stories: The Collected Short Nonfiction. Text Publishing. 2017.
Garner, H. Yellow Notebook: Diaries Volume I 1978–1987. Text Publishing. 2019.
Garner, H. One Day I’ll Remember This: Diaries 1987–1995. Text Publishing. 2020.
Garner, H. How To End a Story Diaries 1995–1998. Text Publishing. 2021. 
Goldsworthy, K. Helen Garner. Oxford University Press. 1996.
Grosz, E. Chaos, Territory, Art: Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth. Columbia University Press. 2012.
Hall, R. Letter to Murray Bail. Papers of Murray Bail, 1950-2001. National Library of Australia. 1975.
Hazzard, S. Letter to Murray Bail. Papers of Murray Bail, 1950-2001. National Library of Australia. 1982.
Hazzard, S. Letter to Murray Bail. Papers of Murray Bail, 1950-2001. National Library of Australia. 1987.
Larson, S. ‘The Kindest’. American Short Fiction. Issue 65. 2020.
Lawson, H. ‘The Drover’s Wife’. The Henry Lawson Short Stories. Penguin. 2009.
Legge, K. ‘Truly Helen’. The Weekend Australian Magazine. March. 2008.
Ley, J. ‘The Tyranny of the Literal’. Australian Book Review. April. 2005.
Lindell, J. ‘Miles Franklin-winner Murray Bail on Pinning down Memory with Novelist’s Eye’. The Canberra Times. 2021.
Malcolm, J. The Silent Women: Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes. Picador. 1994.
Malouf, D. Letter to Murray Bail. Papers of Murray Bail, 1950-2001. National Library of Australia. 1988.
Mead, J. (Ed). Bodyjamming: Sexual Harassment, Feminism and Public Life. Random House, 1997.
Modjeska, D. Stravinsky’s Lunch. Picador. 1999.
Modjeska, D. Second Half First. Penguin. 2016.
Roupenian, K. ‘Cat Person’. New Yorker. December 11, 2017.
Shapcott, T. Letter to Murray Bail. Papers of Murray Bail, 1950-2001. National Library of Australia. 1975.
Strand, M. Letter to Murray Bail. Papers of Murray Bail, 1950-2001. National Library of Australia. N.d.

 

 

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Moya Costello has two books of short creative prose, two short novels, and one collection of prose poems published, with scholarly and creative work in journals, newspapers, anthologies and on audio and video. She taught creative writing for over ten years and is currently an Adjunct Lecturer with Southern Cross University. She has a PhD in creative writing from the University of Adelaide. She has read at many venues, judged many writing competitions, been a guest at many Australian writers’ festivals, and been awarded Australian federal and state government writing grants.

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  1. Exquisite, heart-touching critique by poet, teacher, mentor of this student of life. Thorough and clear, and kind writing brings clarity to complicated personal history of our great Garner.

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