'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.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
'It is a rite of passage in the early days of law school to ponder eighteenth-century jurist William Blackstone’s famous ratio, in which it is deemed ‘better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer’ (Blackstone 352), and the kind of society—or more importantly, normative vision of society—it meaningfully instantiates. The ratio, after all, as a precursor to the now commonplace presumption of innocence, suggests that the criminal division of law (and, more broadly, the rule of law and the tenets of procedural fairness it requires) has been designed so as to protect the accused from the sheer brutality of accusation, over and above its other, secondary function, which is to protect society from its criminal element, and protect victims of crime. It, then, heralds a specific political commitment: by stressing the importance of tempering the structural violence of sovereignty and the state apparatus in the organisation of a well-formed society, it correctly deemphasises or downplays the ways in which individual cases of injustice (that is, the ten guilty persons who escape) are able to shape the contours of social life.' (Introduction)
'We overhear a woman weeping by the side of a river, her tears mingling with its water and her voice echoing back to her to amplify her complaint. Caught up in grief and, occasionally, anger, she laments her unjust treatment by her male lover, even as she declares her unrequited love in the face of his abandonment (Kerrigan 14-23). In the late sixteenth century, when such complaints flourished, this abandonment could have devastating social and economic consequences for historical women’s lives, especially if the woman were pregnant. These chronicles of woe dramatised such consequences for both the unknown victims of assault and recognisable historical figures, in an early form of true crime writing. Yet this kind of female-voiced complaint was rarely a vehicle for women’s own protest or pursuit of redress. Early modern women’s complaints against love gone wrong were often written by men and framed by male narrators: they were the imagined responses of abused and abandoned women dramatised for the reader’s enjoyment and used to voice larger complaints against the times. Around these weeping figures formed sympathetic and generative communities, from the intimate publics who listened to the speaker’s lament within the text, to the broader communities of men and women who heard, read, copied, circulated or rewrote these complaints as their own.' (Introduction)
'Working in the archives of living writers provides exciting possibilities for extended interpersonal research as well as ethical challenges. This article explores the author’s experience of working in Helen Garner’s restricted archives and negotiating the demands of scholarly objectivity with an increasingly felt empathic engagement. The author traces a chronological path through the archives relating to Garner’s three substantial works of non-fiction: The First Stone (1995), Joe Cinque’s Consolation (2004) and This House of Grief (2014). She draws attention to some of the ways in which distance and objectivity can be influenced not only by contact with a living writer but also by the space in which the archive is encountered. With a deliberate focus on the lived experience of researching, rather than a scholarly examination of archival theory, the author offers a case study of how the interaction of archives and living subject can shape research and publication.' (Publication abstract)