Introduction by Charlotte Wood
An elegant hardback edition of the novel that launched Helen Garner’s career.
Helen Garner’s gritty, lyrical first novel divided the critics on its publication in 1977. Today, Monkey Grip is regarded as a masterpiece—the novel that shines a light on a time and a place and a way of living never before presented in Australian literature: communal households, music, friendships, children, love, drugs, and sex.
When Nora falls in love with Javo, she is caught in the web of his addiction; and as he moves between loving her and leaving, between his need for her and promises broken, Nora’s life becomes an intense dance of loving and trying to let go.
‘Garner is a natural storyteller.’
‘Her use of language is sublime.’
‘This is the power of Garner’s writing. She drills into experience and comes up with such clean, precise distillations of life, once you read them they enter into you. Successive generations of writers have felt the keen influence of her work and for this reason Garner has become part of us all.’
‘What Garner offers in these novels is an alternative to the cloying metafiction of the late 20th century and the washed-out realism of the 21st. They are undeniably of their time – the 1970s commitment to the liberating possibilities of sex, drugs and communal living in Monkey Grip, the hangover nursed in the 1980s in The Children’s Bach – but they also belong to a literary epoch we think of as long gone, as they earnestly strive to resurrect a modernist art of estrangement.’
‘Its embattled characters are so real that by the last page you feel not just that you have read a magnificent novel but that you have experienced life itself.’
‘Acclaimed Australian writer Garner’s achingly poignant portrait of a young woman and the drug addict she loves rings with an authenticity that is, by turns, frustrating and sweet…In buoyant and vivid prose, Garner evokes the lies, deceptions, delusions, and hope that come with a life always lived on the edge of despair or delight.’