30 review for My Hard Heart: Selected Fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    C.S. Burrough

    Anthologies are popular introductions to writers and follow-ups after reading their novels. In the former category, I read with intrigue in my ongoing quest to seek out home grown Aussie writers who grab me. I enjoyed Garner's acute observations of human nature. I relished her evocative backgrounding. Her voice is richly authentic. Her fragmented sense of form I found bearable. Her suburban characters endeared and revolted me as much as they seemingly do their author, amounting to fine depiction Anthologies are popular introductions to writers and follow-ups after reading their novels. In the former category, I read with intrigue in my ongoing quest to seek out home grown Aussie writers who grab me. I enjoyed Garner's acute observations of human nature. I relished her evocative backgrounding. Her voice is richly authentic. Her fragmented sense of form I found bearable. Her suburban characters endeared and revolted me as much as they seemingly do their author, amounting to fine depictions. Her incessant man-bashing I found shrewish and wearing. Her narration's cultural and geographical restlessness irritated me – if the protagonist doesn’t like it why doesn't she get the hell out instead of whining about it? In another age it would be more understandable, but in the cosmopolitan era of these tales she has no excuse but cowardice, for which I found no sympathy. Empathy, perhaps, of that weighing, draining kind. Although hard going in parts, the anthology's looming sense of inertia typifies a suburban Australian mindset of not long ago or even today, where intellect feels futile and family or mateship comes first. The combined greasy despondency and simmering tetchiness across the stories captures something as fundamentally Australian as its weather, if you can muster the grit to sit through it. This seems to be Garner's intended effect. So in some ways these pieces struck me as cathartic exercises, an excusable self-indulgence forming the foundation of much great modern literature. In the face of the annoyances cited I was compelled to keep reading, a dichotomy underpinning the hallmark of any good writing. The timelessness of her human dilemmas is another hallmark of quality fiction that struck me throughout. Helen Garner hardly needs my validation after her achievements. A notable Australian literary figure, one must admire her work's longevity in such a fast changing scene. Whilst she has been criticized by some for merely 'transcribing her diary material into fictional form', in her defence it needs reiterating that such is the stylistic mode of much great modern fiction. Although this is not entirely my cup of tea it demanded I read every word. My quest for home grown Aussie writers to embrace continues. Thank you Helen Garner for earning your place near the top of my worryingly short list, despite our challenging differences on people and life.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jess Tait

    Really enjoyed it. Great dialogue and lovely language.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alison Petchell

    Not one of her best. I generally love her short story anthologies but I found this pretty tough going

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ruby

    Not as good as Monkey Grip for me, and thus a bit disappointing but it's still Helen Garneresque loveliness.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Sell

    Not my favourite Helen Garner. I found it hard to connect to the characters.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jude

  7. 4 out of 5

    Iain

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Warner

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

  10. 5 out of 5

    Deretta Brown

  11. 4 out of 5

    halen

  12. 5 out of 5

    Felicity

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Williams

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kat Endeavour

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cass

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carmie

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cath

  19. 4 out of 5

    Adele Lausberg

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chantelle

  21. 5 out of 5

    Scott Woodard

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  23. 5 out of 5

    Roberta Guthrie

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jess

  25. 5 out of 5

    Belinda

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sally Boucher

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ros

  29. 5 out of 5

    Maya

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

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