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The Spare Room

Written by Helen Garner

  • 200 Pages
  • 9780887848384
  • 7.810" x 5.000"
  • FICTION / Literary
  • FICTION

$13.27 $18.95

Publication Date November 01, 2009

Winner of several prestigious prizes, The Spare Room is extraordinary writer Helen Garner's intense, moving investigation of the boundaries and limits of a lifelong friendship.As the novel opens, Helen lovingly prepares the spare room in her home for her dear friend Nicola, who is coming to visit for three weeks while receiving controversial treatment for late-stage cancer. From the moment Nicola staggers off the plane, gaunt and hoarse but still somehow grand, Helen becomes her nurse, her guardian angel, and her stony judge. The Spare Room tells an unforgettable story full of complex humour, rage, and compassion.

Long-listed for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2010

Short-listed for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize - Best Book 2009

Contributors

Helen Garner
Helen Garner was born in Geelong, Australia, in 1942. She has been published novels, stories, nonfiction, and journalism since 1977, when her first novel, Monkey Grip, appeared. She was awarded Australia's richest literary prize, the Melbourne Prize for Literature, in 2006. She lives in Melbourne.

Reviews

"Garner should be better known in this country. Utterly unsentimental, facing death without shyness, rightly praised by Peter Carey, The Spare Room is...powerful..." New Yorker

"Helen Garner's writing pulls you in, and makes you want to know her characters. This is a book that will speak to people as they get older. I was in tears. You know how it ends, but it had me wondering if I would have the necessary patience to care for someone who is ill. Garner is a beautiful writer." Lynn Tompson, Bookseller

"Pain is not often detailed so exactly in fiction...Every detail of life glows with the energy field of ordinary things, about which [Garner] writes so beautifully...I read it in one sitting, leaning forward in my chair..." Globe and Mail

"...A book so sensitive, sad, funny, and alive, it surely deserves an honoured place on many shelves." Daily Telegraph

"[A] daring and dazzling novel...[Garner] writes with a diamond drill, depicting human relationships with such brutal clarity they seem to be rendered for the first time...The scenes evoking...the outrageous laughter you can share only with a dear friend are as light and appealing as a summer's day...you can trust Helen Garner. As deeply as she'll take you into the darkest territory of the heart, she will not abandon you." LA Times

"[The Spare Room] cuts to the bone of what friendship comes to mean to two women...reads as memoir, or a rant of despair, frustration and blackly comic rage...Garner does more with this simple story in under 200 pages than many authors do with complex narratives in lengthy novels...not to be missed." Winnipeg Free Press

"A perfect novel, imbued with all of Garner's usual clear-eyed grace...How is it that she can enter this heartbreaking territory - the dying friend who comes to stay - and make it not only bearable but glorious and funny? There is no answer except: Helen Garner is a great writer; The Spare Room is a great book." Peter Carney

"Helen Garner was my favourite discovery of the year." Anne Enright

"Helen Garner wrestles with a conscience-battering test of the limits of mercy...The Spare Room reads like an unsparing memoir in which flashes of dark humour and simple happiness lighten the grim record of an overwhelmingly difficult chapter in a woman's life...To know all is not necessarily to forgive all: understanding can suffice." New York Times

"Masterful." Vogue

"Swift, beautiful, and relentless, The Spare Room is a brutal novel in the best sense." Alice Sebold

"The beauty of [The Spare Room] lies in its insistence on the frank and inescapable fight between life and death...It does not seek to instruct or to uplift: it seeks, rigorously and unflinchingly, to tell the truth...A triumph of art over artifice." Newsweek

"The old cliche that 'you've got to laugh' in the face of tragedy is given new meaning by Garner...And she dares to express the unspeakable thoughts we often think when confronted by another's illness...What Garner brings is a forensic self-examination and a dazzling ability to turn self-realisation into universal language...as the best fiction should...[The Spare Room] tells a simple and honest story that forces us to confront our own lives and relationships...The Spare Room is intensely rewarding. It's a rare book that can make you laugh as much as this, while giving your head and your heart a workout. Helen Garner, welcome back to the world of fiction. We need you here." PopMatters.com

"The Spare Room has the intimate and matter-of-fact feel of a memoir...The prose is brisk, focused and often darkly funny...Cancer is not cured; there is no Nabokovian last-minute escape from death into the unreality of story or language itself. The book ends, as it begins - sharply, with tacit acknowledgement that anger and feelings of helplessness have a large part to play in love and death." Toronto Star

"The Spare Room is a brilliant success...Garner never lets up on the intensity, never backs off from her close-up on the intimate elemental conflict at the novel's core. Indeed, she ratchets it to a near-operatic peak no less searing for occasional doses of mordant humour...She's not interested in handy resolutions or any conventional notion of closure, perhaps because she knows - and gives her readers credit for knowing - that life itself rarely works that way. The Spare Room resonates deeply. It may well be the shortest epic you'll ever read." Montreal Gazette

"The Spare Room is an absolutely harrowing read...It's an utterly devastating, all-too-human novel that will force readers to face both their fears and their potential...Helen Garner is one of the great writers of our time...With The Spare Room she has created a bold, uncompromising work that strikes to the very core." Edmonton Journal