Editor’s Note

Editor’s Note June 2018

“The writer, like the murderer, needs a motive,” Janet Malcolm once wrote.

For good reason, a savvy writer is wary of being written about. Knowing what’s involved, why should she submit herself to the motives – and the savage scrutiny – of another? Their respective aims are not the same, and those of the latter may not even be honourable. (Janet Malcolm again: “Art is theft, art is armed robbery, art is not pleasing your mother.”)

Helen Garner well knows the complex dynamics at play between writer and subject. From experience, she knows that no one can predict what will result when they sit down together, and that it takes considerable bravery, in handing your story to another, to trade the safety of seclusion for the benefits of exposure, scrutiny, of being judged.

“If I’m not in a particularly confident or extroverted mood, it starts to feel as if I’m hacking off pieces of myself to please or entertain or interest the interviewer,” Helen Garner tells Erik Jensen in the June issue of The Monthly. Despite the risks, she did agree to bare her soul. And the rewards are obvious – to readers, at least.

Jensen’s profile, based on several long interviews, is worthy of his subject, and as unflinching, personal and gratifying as Garner’s own work.

Nick Feik

Nick Feik is the editor of The Monthly.

@nickfeik

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