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Yellow Notebook: Diaries Volume I 1978–1986

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  409 ratings  ·  74 reviews

Helen Garner has kept a diary for almost all her life. But until now, those exercise books filled with her thoughts, observations, frustrations and joys have been locked away, out of bounds, in a laundry cupboard.

Finally, Garner has opened her diaries and invited readers into the world behind her novels and works of non-fiction. Recorded with frankness, humour and steel

Hardcover, 272 pages
Published November 5th 2019 by Text Publishing
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Average rating 4.16  · 
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Start your review of Yellow Notebook: Diaries Volume I 1978–1986
I have not read this book yet. I will read it over my summer holiday; well that is the plan. The following are some lines by Helen as I listened to her speak at the City Recital Hall at a Sydney Writer's Festival event I attended a short while back. This woman is becoming my writing guru. It can't get better than this.

As with every piece of writing that’s got any value, there’s a sort of line there’s a thread of muscle that runs through it and this is something that if you teach writing, or i
Jaclyn Crupi
Nov 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Helen Garner for breakfast, lunch and dinner. These diaries offer unparallelled access and intimate insight to the mind of this great writer and I ate it all up. Garner has featured in my dreams while I read this and she is very much in my head which has been a joy. Talk about aqua profonda!
Rosemary Atwell
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reads
Poignant, raw, deeply thought-provoking and occasionally joyous, these beautiful entries reaffirm Garner as an indomitable, unflinchingly honest, vulnerable human who also happens to be Australia’s greatest writer. Layer upon layer of wonderful prose, diverse quotations that demonstrate the breadth of her reading, tiny snapshots of acute observation and the myriad of detail that makes savouring her work such a joy - ‘Yellow Notebook’ offers essential insight for both writers and readers on liter ...more
Tamsien West (Babbling Books)
Interesting insight into the life and mind of a great writer. The way she turns phrases and makes precise observations was fascinating. There were so many brilliant quotes, particularly about the struggle of a writer or artist of any kind of feel that their work is valuable.
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Yellow Notebook confirms Helen Garner as this country's most astute chronicler of life, in all its messy mundanity and pain and glory. I dog-eared every other page until my copy resembled a PhD student's thesis subject. ...more
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faves
the way helen garner writes makes me feel so clatteringly, vividly alive
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-reviews
This is an extraordinarily powerful and compelling collection of Garner's own carefully curated personal diary entries spanning an entire decade. It's totally immersive and a joy to read. Without a doubt, it will be on my "favourite books of the year" list for 2019.

To read my full review, please visit my blog.
A hard book to review. Definitely a well written book, a very sincere and open insights in many various aspects of Helen Garner's life. I read most of HG's books, really liked her non fiction, especially Joe Cinque's Consolation, This House of Grief and The First Stone.
Diaries are always a very personal kind of writing, especially this book which is written in fragments, some of them fairly short and some of them longer, Helen Garner's life, thoughts, experiences, emotions and also events in soc
Kathy Fogarty
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am entirely biased as I love all things Helen Garner. I can't imagine why someone would want to adopt a critical stance and thereby miss out on the experience of fully immersing themselves in her exquisite observations of life and people. This book is made up of her diary entries from 1978 - 1987 and comprises her observations of self, others, interactions, memory, nature, romantic love, mother-daughter love, murder, the law, music, the pain of criticism, grief, dogs, other writers, friendship ...more
Text Publishing
The following book reviews have been shared by Text Publishing – publisher of Yellow Notebook

‘[Garner’s] writing expresses a hard-won grace. It brings you closer to the world, and shows you how to love it.’

‘[Garner] experiences the consequences of her writing so acutely, and that is what makes her so extraordinary—you can read the suffering in every word’
Annabel Crabb

'There is so much wisdom in this book that we can be grateful that Garner has decided to share it around.’
Michael McGirr,
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
What a thrill, to be inside her mind; even if only for snippets.
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh I just gobbled this up! What an absolute treat. Helen Garner was my first proper favourite writer, then I went off her for a while, but I have never shaken her and never will. These dairies are vintage Garner, from my favourite period - just after Monkey Grip and covering The Children’s Bach and Postcards from Surfers, or 1978-1987. Those wonderful books and stories were dismissed by some as jazzed up diaries - or what we may now call in more exalted tones autofiction - and to those critics t ...more
Lee Kofman
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is really 6 out of 5! Incredible! It felt elevating reading it. Made me want to write a much better journal than the flippant one I have. More importantly, reading it made me want to reach for the stars in every way - in how I observe things then to write about them, and in how just to imbibe the everyday life, to NOTICE. In how to 'do' conversations, listen to music, swim even. And, I kept thinking, in deep identification, as I read the book: So Garner, too, had to clean food off her ...more
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
To be honest you can not review or critic a diary as it is not structured and it is a collection of thoughts, observations and recollections. You can only reflect on the insight that is afforded to the reader by the author allowing you to be part of their intimate world. For I am sure many write a journal and many do not believe anyone will ever read their words until after they have left the mortal shell.
Helen Garner is one of Australia's great writers and she allows us to read her observation
Susan Wishart
I'm usually a fan of Helen Garner's work but not this time I'm afraid. Short disconnected jottings about her thoughts and feelings during her forties caused my brain to ache. Probably not meant to be read from cover to cover over a fairly short period as the effect is like trying to watch a television programme while someone insists on constantly changing channels. ...more
Gaby Meares
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I felt like a voyeur as I read Garner’s diaries. How brave she is to expose herself to us, her readers. She hasn’t censored her entries, even her climbing of Uluru remains. (Here’s a link to an interview with HG explaining her choice not to censor.

My copy is thick with book darts marking the passages that I wish to quote; too many! She is kind and mean; gossipy and snippy and needy, but also generous and loving. She is spiteful. She is funny. She is hon
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely little snippets of a wonderfully complex, fun, scary and loving life.
Amy Polyreader
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 19-favourites
I would love to live inside the mind of Helen Garner. I just love the way her brain ticks, how she crafts sentences so casually and draws to attention such enormous moments of truth. There’s a lot of honesty in this. It’s journal entries, so we can’t expect it to be judgement free, and if you were to expect that it would be a rather bland journal. I love the brutality and softness these pages can express all at once.
Anne Fenn
Loved every line of these books.
Mar 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2020
3.5 stars. Overall a fairly fragmented collection of excerpts from Garner’s diaries - I found myself irritated by the lack of information/context for who most people were. But some of the excerpts were beautifully written, shrewdly observed and devastatingly accurate in their comments on human nature and life. So for those it’s worth a read! One to dip in and out of rather than read in one sitting, I think.
Alan  Marr
Sep 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once I got used to the discontinuous nature of the diary entries this became enjoyable reading. Garner was brave in publishing such a piece of work. we find her warts and all but mostly beautifully observant and reflective. I am a Helen Garner fan so it was great to gain insights into the writing process.
Anthony Scully
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved loved loved this.
Jan Miller
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book I needed to own and read in short busts. I love her writing, she seems to express so much with so few words. I did find the labelling of people as letters and the constant moving between them and other thoughts a bit confusing but it is a diary after all!
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love reading Helen Garner, her diary is a collection of snippets, quotes, moods, insights — brilliant !!
Rania T
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Small snippets from the life of Gardner. It surely was a trip down memory lane when she would recall certain events that are now history. It's a good thing that she didn't destroy her diaries, as she sometimes talks about wanting to do so in some of her entries. ...more
Melinda Nankivell
My pathetic attempts at diaries are stupid in comparison to this. What a writer! Even when she is filled with self doubt she is amazing. Her observations, her honesty, the rawness of her... I loved every moment. Thank you for sharing this with the world!
Danielle {halfdesertedstreets}
4.5 stars. I need more, please.
Darby Hudson
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A few random passages I liked:

"Marriage is a kind of... mystical union", said the new father. "You're not only you anymore." Mystical union. I stared at him. The size of the statement, the theological term, dropped casually at the table. I have never, ever felt such a thing, and do not expect to. I feel that 'in the end there's only you'."

"Is this the artists fate? Always to be loved less than I need; or somehow repel love, or what is seen as myth or dream of our society as normal marital love?
John Horner
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's very strange reading this in the era of Twitter and Instagram, because these are bite-sized thoughts, floating, decoupled, isolated portions of text, very few of them longer than a quarter-page. We've become used to reading in these tiny increments, but the content comes from a different time.

Helen Garner is one of my literary heroes, established for good or bad as one of Australia's best known, most controversial writers—it's shocking to read the thoughts of a writer just beginning her car
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5. It’s magic to read around the books I’ve loved. I’ve written down so many snippets of her musings from this collection. Whip smart and snide and kind and reflexive.
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Helen Garner was born in Geelong in 1942. She has published many works of fiction including Monkey Grip, Cosmo Cosmolino and The Children's Bach. Her fiction has won numerous awards. She is also one of Australia's most respected non-fiction writers, and received a Walkley Award for journalism in 1993.

Her most recent books are The First Stone, True Stories, My Hard Heart, The Feel of Stone and Joe

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