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Everywhere I Look by Helen Garner (Text Publishing)
In Everywhere I Look, Helen Garner presents a selection of her essays, diary entries and other short writing, covering everything from the sweetness of grandchildren to chance encounters with strangers. Garner brings her eye for evocative detail to each topic, whether it’s the changing seasons in her Melbourne backyard or the stance of an accused murderer in the dock. She is at her most moving when struggling to grasp the essence of her mother, a distant woman she can only glimpse obliquely, or when describing the indignities of ageing in a society besotted with youth.
Her descriptions are often poignant, infused with loss and hope, but can startle too with sudden danger: a swooping magpie, a companionable dog turned hostile, a tempest stirring the earth into an attacking cloud. Observing ballet dancers in rehearsal, Garner writes of their manifestation of ‘the tremendous onwardrushingness of life, which has only one destination and yet constantly renews itself, full of a joy that transcends words’. These disparate pieces combine to produce a luminous whole, a picture of ordinary lives in all their pathos, dignity and beauty.