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Yellow Notebook

Yellow Notebook: Diaries Volume I 1978–1987

Diaries, Book One

Helen Garner

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  • awardLonglisted, Booktopia Favourite Australian Book, 2020
  • awardLonglisted, General Non-fiction Book of the Year, Australian Book Industry Awards, 2020
  • awardLonglisted, Non-fiction, Indie Book Awards, Leading Edge, 2020
  • Finally, Helen Garner has opened her diaries and invited readers into the world behind her novels and works of non-fiction. Recorded with frankness, humour and steel-sharp wit, these accounts of her everyday life provide an intimate insight into the work of one of Australia’s greatest living writers.

    Yellow Notebook, Diaries Volume I, in this new paperback edition, spans about a decade beginning in the late 1970s just after the publication of her first novel, Monkey Grip. It will delight Garner fans and those new to her work alike.


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    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 Literature 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 May 2022
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    Praise for Helen Garner
    andYellow Notebook

    ‘[Garner’s] writing expresses a hard-won grace. It brings you closer to the world, and shows you how to love it.’

    ‘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.’

    ‘Garner, in everything she writes, is an indelible stylist, a shaper of events, a distiller of meaning.’

    ‘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.’

    ‘It’s a special privilege to be let in on what was going on in her mind, her life.’

    Yellow Notebook is as replete as it is spare. It is brimful of a life that needs to be taken a sip at a time to enjoy all its flavours…There is so much wisdom in this book that we can be grateful that Garner has decided to share it around.’

    Yellow Notebook reveals the bewildered quest, the stubborn orneriness and vanity of a soul forever journeying it knows not where. It has the power of great fiction that the finest poetry has.’

    ‘The sensory nature of her observations is glorious.’

    ‘We are once again able to witness one of Australia’s greatest writers at her most raw, unedited, and brilliant…Yellow Notebook is both entirely ordinary, and completely transfixing.’

    ‘Garner is unparalleled in her honesty and perceptiveness…Experience the things she read, the things she did, they ways she felt, and so much more in this immersive thoughtscape. A delight.’

    ‘[Garner] experiences the consequences of her writing so acutely, and that is what makes her so extraordinary—you can read the suffering in every word.’

    ‘A crafted work of autobiographical glimpses, acute observations and insights into the writer’s psyche…her diaries are the rehearsal space of a great author and even in private her sentences sing with a strong, clear voice.’

    ‘The pleasure of the book is Garner’s eye – the momentary event, the instant’s feel, the texture of time. This is not to say that there is no story – far from it. Yellow Notebook is often rich in anecdotes. It is a book of heart-wrenching break-ups, growing friendships, tears, and celebrations. Garner’s relationship with her daughter becomes a pleasure to share…It is an exemplary book.’

    ‘Starched or not – severe, unbending, falling about at the absurdity of the world – Helen Garner emerges as a moralist rippling with intent and mirth. The diary, clearly, is her true métier. And now we have successive volumes to anticipate. The titular promise and confidence are typical of this brilliant, defiant book.’

    ‘Helen Garner’s Yellow Notebook proves she can’t write a bad sentence, even in private.’

    ‘Don’t mistake Helen Garner’s Yellow Notebook for ‘something sensational to read in the train’, as an Oscar Wilde heroine characterised her own diaries. Garner’s are spare, quiet, reflective: a portrait of the artist and her world, observed with scrupulous honesty.’

    ‘If Yellow Notebook is anything then, it is a testament to the veracity of Garner’s instinct, evidence that ordinary life is not only extraordinary but also worthy of great literary endeavour. And not only that, but that under the right eye, recorded with the necessary skill, life can be elevated to mighty, heartbreaking art.’

    ‘Garner has always been concerned with truth-telling. She is ever-vigilant, watching herself and others, the sharpest of observers capturing with nuance and detail the most telling interactions between friends, siblings, lovers and society, as gathered in a court room, for example…It is a wonderful and often hilarious read. The fortunes of love and art come and go almost like dramatic episodes of personal weather…Then they pass, and she delivers observations of the most clear-eyed and perfectly turned writing.’

    ’Anything she writes, shopping lists of whatever, is worth looking at.’

    ‘It’s a gift to watch a gifted writer teach herself to write.’

    ‘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.’

    ‘Full of Helen Garner’s trademark acerbic wit and razor-sharp observations, this is the sort of book you can either read in parts or let it wash over you all at once.’

    ‘As intriguing as it is deeply humbling.‘

    ‘For fans of Garner’s keen eye, ear for dialogue and shining snapshot moments, this is a must.’

    ‘What in turn fascinates, excites, saddens, entertains and informs the reader is Garner herself…it is the breathtaking acuity of her observation and the painful depth of her self-doubt.’

    ‘In some ways, the diaries are the apotheosis of her entire career, and the most exciting thing she has ever published.’

    Other editions ofYellow Notebook
    • Yellow Notebook
      ISBN: 9781925774917
      5 November 2019
      Buy ebook
    • Yellow Notebook
      ISBN: 9781922268143
      5 November 2019