peteg's blog - noise - books - 2006 12 02 Garner TheFirstStone

Helen Garner: The First Stone

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mrak remarked, several years ago, apropos the author:

I only know her from the controversy over The First Stone. Feminists hate her like poison, apparently.

and I can see why, after reading it. A quick Google will turn up any number of snarky responses. I don't have a background in feminism and no real interest in the infighting, and as she herself says often here, the danger of overly codifying relationships is that the joy goes out of them. (A class of response seems to be that normal flirtatious interaction between men and women is fine... except when it isn't. Not such a helpful characterisation.)

Garner's prose is heartfelt and open, even as the central narrative is frustrated by a lack of cooperation. Her take on relationships, the university life and the stultifying effect of institutions (amongst other things) struck me as insightful and worthy of further development. I was a bit irritated by the repetition and the waiting-for-something-to-happen anecdotal structure, but I finished it in two sittings so I must be nickpicking.