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Helen Garner’s second volume of diaries charts a tumultuous stage in her life. Beginning in 1987, as she embarks on an affair that she knows will be all-consuming, and ending in 1995 with the publication of The First Stone and the bombshell that followed it, Garner reveals the inner life of a woman in love and a great writer at work.
With devastating honesty, she grapples with what it means for her sense of self to be so entwined with another—how to survive as an artist in a partnership that is both thrilling and uncompromising. And through it all we see the elevating, and grounding, power of work.
‘Garner is scrupulous, painstaking, and detailed, with sharp eyes and ears. She is everywhere at once, watching and listening, a recording angel at life’s secular apocalypses…her unillusioned eye makes her clarity compulsive.’
‘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.’
‘A rich insight into what it means to be an artist. Not just a writer but any kind of artist where the pull of the work surpasses everything else. Reading these snatches of life being lived is like being given a painting you love gleaming with the still-wet paint.’