True crime is the genre of literature based on actual crimes and the real life perpetrators. Initially popularised in the late 19th & early 20th centuries, the most famous of the genre is Truman Capote’s superbly written In Cold Blood, which, in 1965, he called a ‘non-fiction novel’. Australia’s most successful exponent of the form currently is Helen Garner, notably with Joe Cinque’s Consolation and This House of Grief.
Helen Garner’s first success was a novel, Monkey Grip, made into a movie for which she co-wrote the screenplay. Other successful novels were The Children’s Bach , Cosmo Cosmolino and The Spare Room. But it was a non-fiction work in 1995 which brought Helen Garner the most attention, indeed notoriety: The First Stone was her treatment of a sexual harassment accusation at Melbourne University’s Ormond College. A splendidly written book, it was a successful best-seller which nevertheless attracted considerable criticism, much of it bitterly personal of the author from self-proclaimed members of the ‘women’s movement’. It was the beginning of a difficult time in her life. Now she has published Everywhere I Look, a collection of 33 perceptive essays written over a 15 year period. The book’s fabulously daggy cover gives a clue as to the wry observation she brings to her writing. This is Garner in expansive mood writing gracefully about everything from her family to ballet to the dawn service.
You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10