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Everywhere I Look

Everywhere I Look

Helen Garner

  • awardShortlisted, Kibble Literary Award for an established author, 2018
  • awardWinner, Indie Book Award for Non Fiction, 2017
  • awardLonglisted, Australian Book Industry Award, 2017
  • I pedal over to Kensington just after dark. As I roll along the lane towards the railway underpass, a young Asian woman on her way home from the station walks out of the tunnel towards me. After she passes there’s a stillness, a moment of silent freshness that feels like spring.

    Helen Garner is one of Australia’s greatest writers. Her short non-fiction has enormous range. Spanning fifteen years of work, Everywhere I Look is a book full of unexpected moments, sudden shafts of light, piercing intuition, flashes of anger and incidental humour. It takes us from backstage at the ballet to the trial of a woman for the murder of her newborn baby. It moves effortlessly from the significance of moving house to the pleasure of re-reading Pride and Prejudice.

    Everywhere I Look includes Garner’s famous and controversial essay on the insults of age, her deeply moving tribute to her mother and extracts from her diaries, which have been part of her working life for as long as she has been a writer. Everywhere I Look glows with insight. It is filled with the wisdom of life.


    Guardian—watching Russell Crowe films
    Lithub—reading Pride and Prejudice


    ABC 7.30 with Leigh Sales
    Lithub with John Freeman

    Helen Garner
    About the Author

    Helen Garner writes novels, stories, screenplays and works of non-fiction. In 2006 she received the inaugural Melbourne Prize for Literature, and in 2016 she won the prestigious Windham–Campbell Prize for non-fiction and the Western Australian Premier’s Book Award. In 2019 she was honoured with the Australia Council Award for Lifetime...

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    Text publication date:
    3 April 2017
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    Praise for Helen Garner
    andEverywhere I Look

    ‘Garner is a natural storyteller: her unillusioned eye makes her clarity compulsive…What gives the memoir its power, as so often in Garner’s writing, is that she is unsparing, in equal measure, of her subject and of herself, and that she so relishes complicated feelings…[Everywhere I Look] is made singular by Garner’s almost reckless honesty, and brought alive by her mortal details.’

    ‘It is a rich, beautiful book by a poet of the everyday, a sheer master of prose. Give it to your grandmother, give it to your tweeting girlfriend. Give it to any man or woman who understands the magic of language. It will hurl them into great gulfs of pleasure, of turmoil and understanding and joy.’

    ‘There’s not a word wasted or out of place. Garner observes, intuits, shares and cares about the lives she writes about like no-one else. Readers will laugh, cry, squirm and gasp and wonder. It’s Garner’s unique gift as a writer, and it’s beautifully realised in Everywhere I Look.’

    ‘Wonderfully evocative…This is an entertaining, thought-provoking and interesting read.’

    ‘[Garner] has a way of describing the world with such wisdom and candour and, sometimes, delight, that it takes one’s breath away…at least, it does mine. Her observations about life are refreshing in their honesty…This is a fine collection that offers many delights to the reader.’

    ‘Similar to a hike, the book is best enjoyed without straining to finish it. It’s full of moments to pause and reflect. More importantly, it stirs up that addictive, expansive feeling only the best books can achieve: that you have reached the final page changed, perhaps even a better and more thoughtful person from having travelled alongside Garner’s observations for a time.’

    ‘Garner’s prose is so very pleasant to read – dry, relaxed sentences that calmly reach out towards loveliness…[Her] willingness to look at and truly see the failures of human behaviour, in herself no less than in others, that lends her work its power.’

    ‘Garner’s style celebrates and enacts containment and minimalism…Its tenderness and brutality cultivate fruitful and interesting kitchen table conversations spanning the grace and indignity of being “all too human.”’

    ‘There is much to engage the reader at several levels…Garner is at her very best when she writes about children with a grandmother’s intense affection, or about friendships.’

    ‘[Garner’s] tone is calm, the language clear and considered…Garner stamps her sensibility on all she writes. For which her fans will be grateful.’

    Everywhere I Look has magnificent savage moments that still make me smile.’

    ‘[Garner’s] writing expresses a hard-won grace. It brings you closer to the world, and shows you how to love it…She has laid the groundwork for a generation of writers; she has repeatedly shown us the glory and the power of an English sentence.’

    ‘Imagine a writer who writes with the humor and precision of Joy Williams, the warmth and ferocity of Elena Ferrante, and the investigative rigor of Janet Malcolm…Read this book and you will wonder how you lived for years without Garner’s voice in your ear.’

    ‘It’s an enormous, miscellaneous range of subject matter, made all the more compelling by the luxuriant strength of Garner’s prose - each phrase considered and crafted in the manner of an artisan. Everywhere I Look is a delicious literary degustation in which each morsel is its own reward.’

    ‘[Garner’s] forensic understanding of the sentence make her paragraphs an illusorily clean and easy read…She teaches me how to write again.’

    ‘A perfect book for a brief escape. Short stories full of emotion and life. Stories that lift you up and draw you in…Wonderfully written.’

    ‘I will read every word [Garner] ever writes.’

    ‘Read together, the collection in Everywhere I Look offers both an intimate insight into its author and a piercing view of the world we all share. Sometimes uplifting and illuminating, sometimes reflective and poignant, sometimes cranky and bleak, it is an absorbing, enriching read that will likely be dipped into again and again.’

    ‘Fantastically accessible…Garner writes warmly and generously. She often brings into her stories characters from her life with no introduction, as if you must surely know them yourself.’

    ‘Not a word is wasted, nothing is too small to write about, nothing is too big to intimidate…Magnificent.’

    ‘Classic Garner: lean and dry, a touch gaze with a tender edge.’

    ‘[A] collection of writing from one of our greatest…Some pieces are surprisingly humorous, some are sentimental, and some are quite chilling.’

    ‘Helen Garner is still at the top of her game and full of surprises.’

    ‘This is Garner in an expansive mood writing gracefully about everything from her family to ballet to the dawn service.’

    ‘There is nothing casual or accidental about Everywhere I Look…Its curated sense of a series of engagements with place, people, and objects, presents a way of writing autobiography which seems unintentional, yet coherent all the same…Helen Garner in this latest work adds to our thinking about writing, how it is done, and for what purpose.’

    ‘I’ve always enjoyed the honesty of [Garner’s] writing, her ability to tackle controversial issues with an inquiring and open mind, and the way she addresses her readers directly. Those characteristics are all present here.’

    ‘Garner’s writing is both disarming and reassuring when we see in another those same fears and feelings experienced in the recesses of our subconscious…Rather than judge, Garner embraces and casts light on the messiness, the underbelly of living.’

    ‘A collection brimming with highlights…Always unflinching, always honest – and always elusive…Brilliantly written and observed, there’s no doubting this is the work of one of our finest writers.’

    ‘Garner’s lean, deceptively simple prose has the power to anger, amuse and inspire. Wisdom and grace permeate every page.’

    ‘These and other richly human subjects connect the author emotionally to her readers…Like strolling around in an idiosyncratic, surprising, and informative museum.’

    ‘Garner brings to the collection not only her tremendous powers of observation but a continued employment of those skills to force readers to confront unpleasant truths. The graceful prose with which she delivers her insights will challenge readers to look at what is happening around them.’

    ‘A book with a big scope, both in terms of the subjects covered and of the stylistic approaches used to discuss them—a great reminder of the range of the essay as form.’

    ‘Garner can write about everything for every reader…Her tone throughout is one of considerable charm and approachability. Five minutes in Garner’s company, you feel, and you’d be telling her your deepest secrets.’

    ‘It’s totally bizarre that Garner isn’t a household name in the UK (she’s Australian). Everything she writes is a small masterpiece. These are collected bits of writing—diary entries, essays, articles, reviews, columns. It includes the most blistering, savage, funny and magnificent piece about getting old, called ‘The Insults of Age’, which is worth the cover price alone. Buy it for your mother for Christmas.’

    ‘The entire experience of reading Helen Garner, the puzzled ‘ah but…’ of her proposition, opens up the sometimes painful, sometimes hilarious discord of our lives. She may have begun acting here as an emotionally engrossing memoirist, but the reader comes away with much more than may have been intended.’

    ‘Prescient and searingly honest’

    ‘On the page, Garner is uncommonly fierce, though this usually has the effect on me of making her seem all the more likable. I relish her fractious, contrarian streak—she wears it as a chef would a bloody apron—even as I worry about what it would be like to have to face it down.’

    ‘Garner approaches core questions about leading a meaningful life, providing baby boomers in particular with examples of how to live thoughtfully and observantly.’

    ‘A mesmerising collection of essays and diary entries, this is a book to savour and re-read. No one else writes with as much insight, clarity and humour. The diary entries in particular are a treat: tiny fragments of life brilliantly observed and beautifully crafted by one of Australia’s greatest writers.’

    ‘There are very few writers whose personal essays seem to depend and widen on a second or even a third or fourth read, but Helen Garner is one of them. Her style is inimitable, for while its elegance is undeniable, its essence is pre-verbal, grounded in her intense and unique ways of looking and seeing.’

    Everywhere I Look was a pure delight…Her view on things is unpredictable, distinctive, and original.’

    ‘A generous collection of pitch-perfect sketches and reviews, each one taking us with her as she looks, really looks, at the world around her and registers her response to it.’

    ‘Garner is a wonderful appreciator: she invites us into the work under review by leading us along the path of discovery she has followed…Her strongest essays evoke emotion through reticence and suggestiveness. They hint at depth of thought and feeling but never become ponderous. And they reveal both the writer and the world by inviting us into her thoughts so that we can see what she sees. Her successes and her failures show just how hard it for an essayist to answer the question of why we should care – why are personal essays something we might want to spend time on anyway? Her best pieces answer this question: we read them because of the richness of perspective they offer. In them, we see not only a small piece of the world, but also the writer looking at the world and looking back at us, asking us to spend some time gazing at it all right there with her.’

    ‘The light of Helen Garner’s piercing observation shines on parents, friends, books, time, the weather, and herself. It’s impossible not to trust these engrossing dispatches in their passion and honesty. A lifetime of looking and taking note, and the hard work of examining the significance of what is seen and felt, make this a masterly collection of essays by our greatest non-fiction writer.’

    Everywhere I Look, like everything in Garner’s oeuvre, brims with clear-eyed insights and crystalline prose. No other writer distils quite like she does.’

    ‘There are times when Helen Garner is the only author I want to read. Restlessly honest, with a sharp eye for detail, her style is by some rare art at once crystalline and conversational.

    ‘Reading this collection of essays is like having a long conversation with a clever, funny, big-hearted, magnificently acerbic friend. It left me astonished all over again by Garner’s deft handling of whatever subject she chooses. There are pieces here that crackle and fizz with the pleasure she takes in her grandchildren, reading, a good martini, and playing the ukulele…Everywhere I Look made me laugh, cry, and think. It is a book to return to again and again with gratitude.’

    ‘It’s no wonder Garner won a major international award, the $US150,000 Yale-based Wyndham-Campbell Prize, for her non-fiction writing this year. You just have to read this collection of essays, diary entries and true stories spanning the past 20 years to recognise her immense talent.’

    ‘Her writing is elegant and spare, the kind of writing that leaves you wrecked at the end. It’s what makes me feel like I’m peeking in her diary when I read the most personal entries in this collection.’

    ‘It made me cry and laugh and think. Garner always reminds me of the power of noticing and the impact of sparse writing.’

    ‘This collection of essays by one of Australia’s best known authors has the sharp steel edge characteristic of all of Garner’s work. Observations are cobbled together in an almost conversational way, stopping and starting, dealing in trivialities and family moments. Woven amongst the everyday, there are recollections of grief; a father’s death, a friend’s funeral, the heartbreak of being in love with a married man. Garner’s gimlet eye is as revealing and clear as ever.’

    Other editions ofEverywhere I Look
    • Everywhere I Look
      ISBN: 9781922253644
      29 March 2016
      Buy ebook