Review: How to End a Story by Helen Garner
Although there is nothing new or unique about author's publishing their diaries--Anais Nin did so to great acclaim, with her diaries becoming more famous than any other work published in her lifetime--Garner's talent lies not so much in the daring to lay her thoughts and experiences bare, but in the way she she is able to turn even the smallest, most fragmented snippets of her life into something interesting. Much like her novels, the snippets are insights into a life lived--the thrill of dancing until late, and of meeting with and speaking to new people. The author's emotions flow onto the page as she notes her suspicions of her husband's affair with their friend X, and her frustration to the way Bail approaches his writing, obsessing day and night over the almost completed manuscript of his latest novel. (Which, for the record, is none other that Eucalyptus, Bail's best known novel to date.) In the diaries we see Bail as cold and a bully, and a marriage that is breaking down, though neither side will admit it. Whether that is the truth as what happened, or the truth as Garner saw it, is, of course, subjective, however what should be clear to the reader is that Garner is unhappy, whether she explicitly says that in her diary or not.
How to End a Story is an interesting insight into a tumultuous few years of the life of an author who has since divorced, returned to Melbourne and written several more bestsellers.