I pedal over to Kensington just after dark. As I roll along the lane towards the railway underpass, a young Asian woman on her way home from the station walks out of the tunnel towards me. After she passes there’s a stillness, a moment of silent freshness that feels like spring.Helen Garner is one of Australia’s greatest writers. Her short non-fiction has enormous range. Spanning fifteen years of work, Everywhere I Look is a book full of unexpected moments, sudden shafts of light, piercing intuition. flashes of anger and incidental humour. It takes us from backstage at the ballet.

to the trial of a woman for the murder of her newborn baby. It moves effortlessly from the significance of moving. house to the pleasure of re-reading Pride and Prejudice.I pedal over to Kensington just after dark.As I roll along the lane towards the railway underpass, a young Asian woman on her way home from the station.

The sections of The Fighter that describe Melbourne’s postwar Jewish community are wonderfully evocative and vibrant. The reader feels transported back in time. What’s it like for you as a writer to go back and relive those times

I love writing about those times and places, partly because I knew them so well. I love writing about the physical neighbourhood, the textures, the changes of an inner suburban neighbourhood during the turning of the seasons. I love taking the reader both into the streets and into those small terraced houses, and out into the backyard boxing gym, and to introduce them to a range of characters across cultural boundaries—although of course, there are darker and disturbing elements to the times, and to the streets, which must be brought to light.

What books are you enjoying reading at the moment

Like many others I caught Ferrante fever, and have read all four of her Neapolitan novels. There are parallels between the streets of Naples, and the worlds she describes, with postwar inner Melbourne, but of course the enduring poverty and the violence it produces was, for historical reasons, more intense and disturbing, and the fight to get out of it all the more riveting. I love the visceral nature of Ferrante’s writing, and her exploration, especially of the women of the neighbourhood—the impact on the mothers, yet another parallel—her range of characters and depth of perception is astonishing, and her writing, at times so intense it become hallucinatory. She is a writer’s writer

and the power of her writing inspires writers. I am moving onto Atticus Lish, Preparation for the Next Life, and early indications are that here is also a powerful voice, documenting the gritty streets and working-class immigrant lives of the inner city.

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