One Day I’ll Remember This: Diaries 1987-1995

Helen Garner

One Day I'll Remember This: Diaries 1987-1995
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One Day I’ll Remember This: Diaries 1987-1995

Helen Garner

“Why should it be any different from any other love affair? Why shouldn’t it run through its phases, wither, and die? I’d better work if I want to survive this, and if I want to play my full and proper part in it. Who wants a lovesick, lazy drip, obsessed with her own emotions and full of resentment against fate?”

“I can only live the thing to its fullest extent. This is what life is. It’s not for saying no.”

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.     

Review

This is the second volume of Helen Garner’s Diaries to be published and covers the years 1987–1995. The Helen in these entries is more mature, more established, and perhaps not as happy. Professionally, things are going well. She’s working on her first film script, writing for different magazines and journals, trying film criticism, being invited to overseas festivals, and serving on the selection panel for the Literature Board. Her burgeoning reputation comes with its little perks; when she orders a new hot water service, it arrives the next day. The dispatcher is a fan.

In her private life there are flashes of happiness but an underlying sadness. She has embarked on a relationship with V, another writer, but V is married, and she snatches time and affection where she can. Eventually they marry, but when she tells her parents that she’s getting married again, they don’t react. There is, too, a yearning for some more stability for someone whose life has been so peripatetic; she buys her first house and a block of land in the bush.

She writes about her writing, about other writers – Elizabeth Jolley, Alice Munro, George Steiner, Proust, and Chekhov. At times she takes pleasure in her work, but then qualifies it. There is a growing sense of confidence and we see the move from fiction to nonfiction as she starts work on her landmark book, The First Stone. One Day I’ll Remember This is a delightful book, longing to be dipped in and out of, and, through it, the reader gets a picture of this remarkable woman.


Mark Rubbo is the managing director of Readings.

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