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.
Helen Garner is an award-winning author of novels, stories, screenplays and works of non-fiction. In 2006 she received the inaugural Melbourne Prize for Literature. Her novel The Spare Room, published in 2008, won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Queensland Premier’s Award for Fiction and the Barbara Jefferis Award, and has been translated into many languages.
‘Garner is a charming and courageous writer whose distinctive voice exemplifies the range of what is possible in personal writing.’ Publishers Weekly
‘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.’ Books&Publishing
‘[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.’ Readings
‘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.’ Daily Review
‘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.’ Guardian
‘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.’ Australian
‘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.”’ Age/Sydney Morning Herald
‘[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.’ Monthly
‘Garner approaches core questions about leading a meaningful life, providing baby boomers in particular with examples of how to live thoughtfully and observantly.’ Library Journal
‘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.’ Best Non-Fiction Books of 2016, Readings
‘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.’ Kerryn Goldsworthy, Australian Book Review, 2016 Books of the Year
‘Everywhere I Look was a pure delight…Her view on things is unpredictable, distinctive, and original.’ Mark Rubbo, Australian Book Review, 2016 Books of the Year
‘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.’ Susan Sheridan, Australian Book Review, 2016 Books of the Year
‘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.’ Open Letters Monthly
‘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.’ Joan London, The Books We Loved 2016, Sydney Morning Herald
‘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.’ Jacinta Halloran, The Books We Loved 2016, Sydney Morning Herald
‘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. Everywhere I Look is a memorable essay collection.’ Lisa Gorton, The Books We Loved 2016, Sydney Morning Herald
‘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.’ Best Books of 2016, Radio National
‘The no-b******t-preamble rule is sparklingly employed…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.’ James Wood, New Yorker
‘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.’ Best Books of 2016, Australian Financial Review
‘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.’ Pop.Edit.Lit.
‘Spanning 15 years, this varied collection of short non-fiction pieces presents some of Helen Garner’s best work. Whether it’s a dig into her own life or a broader look into societal whims and ills, Helen Garner is one of our most skilled essayists.’ Best Books of 2016, Sydney Morning Herald
‘Helen Garner’s Everywhere I Look is not quite a memoir, but there is a keen personal element to this collection of short nonfiction pieces. Garner has just received an outstanding general review from James Wood in the New Yorker. It’s long overdue.’ Australian
‘Whenever I see Garner I try to act normal but inside, some part of me is always squealing IT'S HELEN GARNER!!! Her new book, Everywhere I Look, is masterful, like everything she writes.’ Leigh Sales, ABC News
‘This book brims with Garner’s wit and wisdom.’ Best Books of 2016, Sunday Life
‘Helen Garner’s Everywhere I Look is like having a backstage pass into the mind, notebooks and creative process of one of Australia’s very best writers.’ Andy Griffiths, Best Books of 2016, Guardian
‘For years, Garner has offered me a model for journalism: a careful observer, she also tells us how those observations change her as well as the subjects of her gaze. Garner reveals her nervous system—but also the dubious games and improvisations of journalism. Everywhere I Look is a collection of Garner’s essays and diary entries from the past 15 years. She writes on friendship, ageing, film and literature. In ‘The Journey of the Stamp Animals’, she writes of rediscovering a children’s book that—many years earlier—had seemed so stuffed with illicit magic. Now an adult, this long dreamt-of book in her hands again, she finds the pleasure of having her memory—so often fickle and corruptible—vindicated. The book is as she remembered. It’s a measure of Garner’s talent that this small, obscure triumph carries the feeling of profundity.’ Martine McKenzie-Murray, Best Books of 2016, Guardian
‘If you are looking for a voice to speak to you frankly and with humour and warmth about important things, here is the writer for you. Well-known in Australia as a novelist and screenwriter and reporter, Garner is also one of the world’s best essayists. Here she is thinking about the indignities of how people treat the ageing, the pleasures of a ukulele, grandfathering, and some of her best friends, who she sketches with a master’s economy of gesture. Once you start reading Garner you will wonder what the huge space inside your head she occupies used to be there for.’ John Freeman, Best Books of 2016, Literary Hub
‘A collection of essays and journal entries which include everything from a carefully observed portrait of Rosie Batty to ‘The Insults of Age’, where she details the ways in which older women are disregarded and disrespected but with a confessional twist. For me, the best parts are the snippets from her diary and particularly her observations of being an irritated but besotted grandmother. Garner is one of those generous women writers who is prepared to share with you her less redeeming moments in an act of intimacy and empathy with the reader. You won't always agree with Garner's conclusions but how she approaches a question is always interesting.’ Feminist Reading Picks of 2016, Age
‘She covers topics that others are really afraid of, that really penetrate the human condition, which is something I admire and that has inspired me in my own work.’ Virginia Haussegger, Sydney Morning Herald
‘There are very few writers whose personal essays seem to deepen 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 seems the ideal title for her 2016 essay collection.’ Kerryn Goldsworthy, Best Books of 2016, Australian Book Review
‘Pure delight. It showcases Garner’s distinctive voice and her take on the world around her. Her view on things is unpredictable, distinctive, and original.’ Mark Rubbo, Best Books of 2016, Australian Book Review
‘Garner’s Everywhere I Look is 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.’ Susan Sheridan, Best Books of 2016, Australian Book Review
‘It made me cry and laugh and think. Garner always reminds me of the power of noticing and the impact of sparse writing.’ Leigh Sales
‘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.’ Sydney Scoop
‘Garner shows us something precious and endangered…the nexus of neighbourhoods and neighbourliness, the simple weatherboard houses and the plain local shops in the suburbs of Fitzroy and Moonee Ponds. In the most ordinary suburb, as in the most extraordinary marine wilderness, what lies beneath is as fascinating as life on the surface.’ Times Literary Supplement
‘Everywhere I Look is a book full of unexpected moments, sudden shafts of light, piercing intuition, flashes of anger and incidental humour.’ Perth Writers Festival, Summer Reading Guide
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Everywhere you look in this collection, you’ll find brilliance. Whether she’s describing her happy rediscovery of Pride and Prejudice or examining the grim facts of a case in which a young mother has been accused of infanticide, Helen Garner makes eloquence look easy. The much-loved Melburnian’s writing style is spare, intimate and generous. She graciously provides snapshots from her own life: realising, as a child, that she could use adverbs to describe adjectives, reminiscing about three very different kitchen tables, living (miserably) in Paris with her young daughter, rediscovering suburbia after years of city life, dealing with aging. Garner’s wise, witty insights made us nostalgic for moments from our own past. We’d love to share a meal with her—in the meantime, reading Everywhere I Look is the next best thing.
Garner, one of Australia's most acclaimed writers (This House of Grief), gives her fans a captivating collection of personal essays and diary entries. In 33 short pieces, she covers a wide variety of topics, including the weariness of moving houses, the wisdom of dogs, the suburbs (she defends them), other Australian writers, and Russell Crowe films. Garner's is a deeply personal book, in which the subject that interests her most is her own family. She writes a touching tribute to her complicated mother and a series of sweet descriptions of her grandson, Ted, who is obsessed with cowboys. She also recounts a moving story about her friendship with the writer and Holocaust survivor Jacob Rosenberg. Perhaps the best essay in the book is "The Insults of Age," Garner's catalogue of the ways aging makes a woman invisible or even downright despised in modern society. She discusses her previous books and explains why she was drawn to write about the case of Robert Farquharson, a father convicted of killing his three children, arguing that the case demands a more complex response than simply calling a man "evil" and looking away. No matter the topic, Garner is a charming and courageous writer whose distinctive voice exemplifies the range of what is possible in personal writing.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I am in love with Helen Garner. This collection of stories and observations is simply outstanding. It has sent me reaching into her back catalogue to rediscover one of Australia's greatest writers. Her sentence structure is sublime. A book to relax to. Make a cup of tea. Put your feet up. Immerse yourself. Enjoy.