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30 review for True Stories: Selected Non Fiction

  1. 3 out of 5

    Judy

    So many favourites amongst this collection. Personally I connected with the later stories but this collection I think will be enjoyed with great pleasure by anyone who loves the written word Favourites are All the stories of life with the authors 4 sisters and one almost invisible brother Germaine Greer and feminism On turning 50 The mortuary The horrendously terrifying tale of a visit to a gun expo, pay particular attention to the expressions on the men's faces omg. The story of being a court reporter So many favourites amongst this collection. Personally I connected with the later stories but this collection I think will be enjoyed with great pleasure by anyone who loves the written word Favourites are All the stories of life with the authors 4 sisters and one almost invisible brother Germaine Greer and feminism On turning 50 The mortuary The horrendously terrifying tale of a visit to a gun expo, pay particular attention to the expressions on the men's faces omg. The story of being a court reporter and the truly awful story of the murder of a young boy at the hand of his mothers boyfriend. Omg. I had to put the book away and go outside and garden in the rain for a while after this one So clever A week of Melbourne train journeys The penultimate story about a crematorium And the final story about a day in a labour ward Clever, brilliant writing. I gave it 4 stars purely because I did not connect so well with the early stories.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Maree Kimberley

    I've always been a fan of Helen Garner's writing and this collection of non-fiction essays has plenty of gems. Most of the collection was written during the 1980s & 90s and includes her interesting take on high school teaching (naive but somehow right), country living (a little overwritten for me) and a reflection on the reactions to her controversial book, The First Stone. There is an honesty and forthrightness about Garner's writing that gets right to the guts of things. Whether you're an I've always been a fan of Helen Garner's writing and this collection of non-fiction essays has plenty of gems. Most of the collection was written during the 1980s & 90s and includes her interesting take on high school teaching (naive but somehow right), country living (a little overwritten for me) and a reflection on the reactions to her controversial book, The First Stone. There is an honesty and forthrightness about Garner's writing that gets right to the guts of things. Whether you're an admirer of her views or not, she is someone who is not afraid to ask the hard questions and give insights on topics that are often oversimplified. A fantastic collection, especially for those unfamiliar with Garner's writing who'd like to get an overview of her work.

  3. 3 out of 5

    Cheyenne Blue

    I read this very slowly, dipping in and out of each essay. The majority I really enjoyed, a couple I skipped over. Well written, with clear writing that has stood the test of time. Favourites were the one about turning 50, and one earlier on, when she interviews her sisters.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ruby Noise

    I like the way Helen Garner writes, she can tell a story that makes you feel like you are there standing alongside her in the tale. Christos Tsiolkos makes me feel the same way, all my senses come alive when I read them both. Must be something in the Melbourne water. I had read this book years ago and borrowed it again from the library recently and enjoyed it as much as I did the first time around. The stories involve life in all its stages. The tale of the Melbourne Mortuary really hit home thi I like the way Helen Garner writes, she can tell a story that makes you feel like you are there standing alongside her in the tale. Christos Tsiolkos makes me feel the same way, all my senses come alive when I read them both. Must be something in the Melbourne water. I had read this book years ago and borrowed it again from the library recently and enjoyed it as much as I did the first time around. The stories involve life in all its stages. The tale of the Melbourne Mortuary really hit home this time around because I had to visit the place with my work recently. I had only just finished the story and was called to deliver a lovely soul into its fold. As I stood and looked around the place, I felt Helen's presence with notebook in hand scribbling down notes while she observed the life inside the walls of death. I too saw the scrubbed floors, white gumboots and the 'ordinary' people who work in the building attending to those in the who end up in the Coroners Care. Helen has a unique ability to capture life, with it's sounds, sights and smells and present them on a page that encapsulates it perfectly.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Anne Fenn

    Excellent writing on an interesting range of subjects. I loved her sisters piece . Her reflections on the reception of The First Stone are enlightening, makes me mad all over again about how some people missed her point about power, who has it and how it's used. Lots of people supported her view. One or two pieces were too close to the bone for me, birth and death, she goes where I don't want to. Helen Garner is the ultimate crafter of clear, complex, compelling writing. Just an immensely enjoya Excellent writing on an interesting range of subjects. I loved her sisters piece . Her reflections on the reception of The First Stone are enlightening, makes me mad all over again about how some people missed her point about power, who has it and how it's used. Lots of people supported her view. One or two pieces were too close to the bone for me, birth and death, she goes where I don't want to. Helen Garner is the ultimate crafter of clear, complex, compelling writing. Just an immensely enjoyable read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ron Brown

    This is my fourth Garner book. It wasn’t till I was well into it that I realized that it had been first published some years ago (1996) In 1997 it won the Kibble Literary Award. I had wondered why another selection of short stories had been released so soon after “Everywhere I Look.” The stories in this anthology were written in the 1980s and early 1990s. I find Garner’s writing personal with just enough style and finesse to stop you occasional and reflect on the image that she has created with This is my fourth Garner book. It wasn’t till I was well into it that I realized that it had been first published some years ago (1996) In 1997 it won the Kibble Literary Award. I had wondered why another selection of short stories had been released so soon after “Everywhere I Look.” The stories in this anthology were written in the 1980s and early 1990s. I find Garner’s writing personal with just enough style and finesse to stop you occasional and reflect on the image that she has created with the words she has used. Much of Garner’s writing has been non-fiction as she has worked as a journalist for many years. The stories differ in their interest for the reader. I found the stories about her family and, especially her sisters somewhat repetitive at times. As a teacher I found her descriptions of her sex lessons to pubescent teenagers in the early 70s to be amusing. She was dismissed from the Victorian Education Department after an investigation. I guess you’d probably get the sack in 2017 for doing what she did. But it was a good way to gain the confidence of difficult teenagers. Garner lived in a dilapidated farmhouse and her account of when her father visited her was so meaningful for many of us. Her descriptive writing in this story is Garner at her illustrative best. She writes of her contact with Patrick White, his companion Lascaris and David Marr’s biography of White. I read Marr’s biography and much else about him and I think Garner is accurate in her description and summary of this cantankerous man. She writes about her visit to a morgue – a fascinating and moving account of, what for some is their every day work. Her account of women in old age is insightful and so “Garner.” There is her description of the murder of two year old Daniel Valerio and all the missed opportunities to rescue this innocent young boy from the hands of this monstrous man, Paul Leslie Aiton, Daniel’s mother’s boyfriend. Finally, her account of the reaction to the publication of “The First Stone: Some Questions of Sex and Power" is a powerful defence against those who attacked her. I have not read the book, but I am very aware of the ruptures it caused, especially in feminist circles. I can identify with Garner’s sentiments, not just with feminists but others, such as trade unionists, environmentalist, religious people who only believe in one view and are vitriolic towards others whose view differs from theirs. I read some reviews on Goodreads and quickly saw evidence of this. Although these stories are over twenty years old they still have relevance and meaning in 2017.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeanie Blyth

    I loved these short non fiction stories which I heard read aloud by the author as an audio book. She tackles subjects not pleasurable to all readers, and for this I appreciate her all the more. I did wonder if I would have been able to actually read some of these stories on the page, but managed to hold to her honest resonant voice enough to bear one story in particle. Listening being, for me, a more receptive way of taking in information, compared to the activity of reading. Some stories I need I loved these short non fiction stories which I heard read aloud by the author as an audio book. She tackles subjects not pleasurable to all readers, and for this I appreciate her all the more. I did wonder if I would have been able to actually read some of these stories on the page, but managed to hold to her honest resonant voice enough to bear one story in particle. Listening being, for me, a more receptive way of taking in information, compared to the activity of reading. Some stories I needed to listen over, and listen again deeply, to notice more and reflect on the experience of listening, and later I found myself telling people what ‘I’d heard Helen say’.

  8. 3 out of 5

    Velvetink

    A collection of short stories based on her own life. Everyone has stories. It has me remembering aspects of my own life in vivid detail. She's a master observer and recorder of the human condition.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Georgia

    Some great pieces that evoke modern Australia wonderfully - I particularly liked the account of teaching sex ed to migrant children. Occasionally a little boring. I'd recommend the Audible version that is read by the author herself. The one inclusion that seemed really out-of-place was Garner's weirdly defensive account of the criticism she received after publishing The First Stone (which I haven't read) - this reads like a grumbly whinge motivated by a bad community reaction to the book. The sa Some great pieces that evoke modern Australia wonderfully - I particularly liked the account of teaching sex ed to migrant children. Occasionally a little boring. I'd recommend the Audible version that is read by the author herself. The one inclusion that seemed really out-of-place was Garner's weirdly defensive account of the criticism she received after publishing The First Stone (which I haven't read) - this reads like a grumbly whinge motivated by a bad community reaction to the book. The sanctimonious tone that she adopts for this piece is very jarring compared with the honesty and vulnerability that I usually love to read in her stuff, and feels motivated by insecurity. I'd be interested to know whether Garner's feelings about this piece have changed now that the events she describes are less fresh. As Garner herself acknowledges, the alleged victims had no obligation to be interviewed by her -- I think it's pretty poor form to use your platform as a *national literary treasure* to make insinuations about alleged sexual assault victims in a *literary medium* (especially now, so many years later). If I wasn't such a huge fan of other particular pieces in this collection, or Garner in general, I'd subtract more stars for this.

  10. 3 out of 5

    Anna

    This collection was as impressive as I had expected. There are many powerful pieces here. In some cases the power comes from the subject matter; for example, the utterly heartbreaking 'Killing Daniel', which will stay with me for a very long time. In other cases, the subject matter is mundane on the surface, but Garner's observational skill and the quality of the writing transform what might be dull or conventional in other hands into something significant and moving. All the pieces in this colle This collection was as impressive as I had expected. There are many powerful pieces here. In some cases the power comes from the subject matter; for example, the utterly heartbreaking 'Killing Daniel', which will stay with me for a very long time. In other cases, the subject matter is mundane on the surface, but Garner's observational skill and the quality of the writing transform what might be dull or conventional in other hands into something significant and moving. All the pieces in this collection are exquisitely written, but some didn't hold my interest as much as others. For example, it was hard for me to engage with reviews or articles about books I haven't read and am unlikely to read. But there were many more pieces that I connected with and which moved me. It is hard to pick a favourite. 'My Child in the World' captures many of my feelings about my own daughter. 'A Scrapbook, An Album' beautifully illustrates the complex relationships between sisters. 'Wan, Tew, Three, Faw' shows the power of music, regardless of the skill of the performers. 'The Violet Jacket' sends a powerful message based on a small, insignificant interaction. And several of the pieces demonstrate Garner's remarkable ability to observe people and capture what she sees through her prose: 'At the Morgue', 'Sunday at the Gun Show', 'Five Train Trips', 'Marriage', 'Death', and the final piece in the collection, 'Labour Ward, Penrith', which ends the collection on an uplifting note. This collection is well worth reading, bringing some powerful writing to a new audience.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gretavonpanzer

    4.5

  12. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    True Stories is an interesting short story collection if only because it shows the evolution of Helen Garner as a writer. As a fan of Garner's later work - the Spare Room, Joe Cinque's consolation, and the breathtaking "This House of Grief" - it is fascinating to see how comparatively clunky and naïve was some Garner's earlier writing. I could barely believe that the acerbic and insightful Garner whose work I love, actually was so naïve as to believe that a sex education class in which she as a True Stories is an interesting short story collection if only because it shows the evolution of Helen Garner as a writer. As a fan of Garner's later work - the Spare Room, Joe Cinque's consolation, and the breathtaking "This House of Grief" - it is fascinating to see how comparatively clunky and naïve was some Garner's earlier writing. I could barely believe that the acerbic and insightful Garner whose work I love, actually was so naïve as to believe that a sex education class in which she as a teacher talked about her own sexual practices was actually received by students in the open and innocent way she described, let alone her surprise that the teachers and parents disagreed with her approach. The discussion about menopause and "freedom" another example of a naivety that seems hard to reconcile with the deeply critical writer that Garner has become. Some of the short stories, such as her reflection on writing the First Stone, show glimpses of the genius that characterises her work today. But mostly all I can say is that I have read True Stories and I like Garner's later work much more.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jennie Diplock-Storer

    This was an audiobook, read by Helen Garner herself. I'm a huge admirer of Garner as a writer & to hear her read her own true short stories was a gift. It brought them vigorously to life as she imparted her spirit, & it's a big spirit, generously into her reading. I loved these stories. Some very Australian, some very raw, some about her family, some about her quest for self. Highly recommended.

  14. 3 out of 5

    Alan

    With masterly writing and amazing insights into the human condition, both personally and about others, Helen Garner takes us on a series of honest reflections of her work, of court cases, of bumping into people or overhearing their conversations. There's a lovely spareness to her prose which lays bare her meaning but is nevertheless evocative. I loved the "take no prisoners" interactions between her sisters, the way she closed up like a clam when asked for money, and her thoughts on feminism!

  15. 3 out of 5

    Marlish

    I just loved this brilliant collection of non-fiction stories from one of Australia's finest writers, if not the finest in non-fiction writing, ever. Helen Garner's observations on life and what it is to be human are exceptional.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rose Gowen

    The edition I have was published this year or last year and has many more pages than this one. My husband went to Australia and brought it back for me. I love her. I read some review here on GR that was like, Helen, we don't care about your life. I scoffed when I read that, but then, somewhere in the middle of the edition I have, I saw what he meant. I don't feel the same way-- I do care about her life-- but some of her writing about it was pretty undercooked. This is occasional writing, so it's a The edition I have was published this year or last year and has many more pages than this one. My husband went to Australia and brought it back for me. I love her. I read some review here on GR that was like, Helen, we don't care about your life. I scoffed when I read that, but then, somewhere in the middle of the edition I have, I saw what he meant. I don't feel the same way-- I do care about her life-- but some of her writing about it was pretty undercooked. This is occasional writing, so it's a real mixed bag. She's best, in my opinion, on grim and grisly topics-- there are gorgeous pieces here on parents who kill their children, the morgue, and the cemetery. I was not at all interested in her thoughts on Russell Crowe (uh, but I read them anyhow, I should say!). I need to read her fiction now.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    Helen Garner has a wonderful turn of phrase. Hearing her read these selected stories by the author herself added enormous validity and a subjective element to the material. I love her honesty & now I'm off to find those early works I haven't read yet.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    This is far from Garner's usual exquisitely simple and brilliant writing but it is an interesting look at the development of a writer and some of the stories offered glimpses at the brilliance that would come in their acerbic observations of life, death and the in between.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lynley

    Helen Garner took me to some places I didn't want to go (e.g. to the crematory and the place where they dissect bodies) but I can't complain as it was all well-written and astute as usual.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    I love her writing.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Marchingo

    Superb!

  22. 3 out of 5

    Jgw

    As always Garner packs a punch with her incisive words about living life. Even though some of the content is slightly dated, her insights still resonate. Fabulous writer.

  23. 3 out of 5

    Claude

    Part one of this book is a waste of time, better off skipping it. We simply don't care about boring tales from your life Helen: take note other authors. If it's not interesting then don't try and have it printed. How is it publishers agree to publish such trivialities that anyone, and I mean ANYONE could write? The more of Helen I read the more I dislike her. Maybe it has something to do with her feminist undertones. But then I think to myself, don't hate her too much unless I can qualify it by b Part one of this book is a waste of time, better off skipping it. We simply don't care about boring tales from your life Helen: take note other authors. If it's not interesting then don't try and have it printed. How is it publishers agree to publish such trivialities that anyone, and I mean ANYONE could write? The more of Helen I read the more I dislike her. Maybe it has something to do with her feminist undertones. But then I think to myself, don't hate her too much unless I can qualify it by being a better writer myself. Hopefully this day will come, then my statements can have more validity.

  24. 3 out of 5

    Chelsea

    I have mixed feelings about this book. There are some great pieces in here, but the downside to this being a collection of work is that it's only good as the sum of its parts. I also had a clear sense that this is the Helen Garner of old, still finding her voice and falling short in doing so at times. Then again, it's kind of nice to see bits of under-development or clunkiness here and there because it gives hope to all writers out there!

  25. 3 out of 5

    Naomi Faye

    Being a collection of writing spanning her career, I knew 'True Stories' wasn't meant to be Helen Garner's greatest work. Although, I did expect a lot more. It was boring in parts, with slightly racist undertones in others, and I got annoyed by her writing style by the end. There's some great lines worth highlighting though, and I agree with other reviewers, she's the queen of observational writing that's for sure.

  26. 3 out of 5

    Rizkamaydita

    It's a compilation of non-fiction stories that written just like a novel. Excellent narratives and descriptions. You'll enjoy reading this book because it has different short-stories. It's about Helen Garner's journey throughout her life. And she makes it very clear that life is full of stories, from sad ending, funny, and inspiring moments - and all you need to do is to enjoy every bit of them.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chandni

    I have been reading this book in parts because i felt that every story had to be tasted and given some time for digesting. She observes so precisely that you watch what she sees. I loved the recollection of the Daniel murder case,i think she touched all the right chords without distorting the facts. Love her writing style!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    Fabulous! I gulped this down too quickly, I should have savoured it more. When I run out of Helen Garner books I'll be really sad. My favourite pieces from the collection: "Labour Ward, Penrith" "The Schoolteacher" "Cruising" "Marriage"

  29. 3 out of 5

    Charlotte

    Easily some of the best short stories - if they can be classified as so - that I have ever read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Garner's prose are a joy to read; really enjoyed this glimpse into her life from many years ago - excellent read throughout.

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