Friday Faves: The Children’s Bach by Helen Garner

GKR2This week’s Friday Fave comes from Georgia Richter, publisher of adult fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry at Fremantle Press. She is also an award-winning author of short fiction whose work has appeared in literary journals across Australia.

I read Helen Garner’s The Children’s Bach when I was 19. I read it as a Melburnian and I was captivated by the way that Garner celebrated, realised and internalised my Melbourne (Merri Creek!) with detail, immediacy, authenticity. I read and reread it as a young writer who was hungry to learn the craft. I examined it closely to see how Garner had achieved her clear and beautiful prose, its structural fluidity and perfect shape. (She’d done it with a journalist’s economy, I decided. With writing so direct it felt literal. And indeed, with scarcely a metaphor in sight.) And of course, I read it for the story: for its characters with their imperfections and their opinions and their flaws and they way they are lost or found in their dreams. Helen Garner is still one of the writers whose new work I always buy and read. And The Children’s Bach remains for me one of the novellas against which I measure all other novellas: for its beauty, ease, brevity and depth. When I was 19, The Children’s Bach was the perfect book at the perfect time. It helped me define and understand myself as I entered the adult world.

You might also like: my own Friday Fave – Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

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