Helen Garner – Monkey Grip (Control+X)

A little while ago, I wrote a review of ‘Monkey Grip‘ by Helen Garner for a site called Control+X.

It’s a very ‘undergraduate’ review, and I’m considering going back to uni (third time’s a charm) to get a Masters – mostly so I can feel less inadequate when I go to describe things as ‘undergraduate’.*

*If that particular version of the future happens, and one of my lecturers reads this blog nonsense, let it be known that I’m not sure if I’ve used any punctuation correctly in that sentence. Somehow, an awareness of your own ignorance makes it more acceptable?

The point I’m slowly getting to is that, try as I might, I don’t like Helen Garner, and I feel fairly guilty about said fact.

I’ve tried Monkey Grip; I read The Children’s Bach, and I really disliked them both.

As an Australian, with an interest in literature, I worry that disliking the likes of Helen Garner marks me as, ahem “UN-AUSTRAYAN!”

The film adaptation of Monkey Grip has Noni Hazlehurst in it, for pity’s sake. How could I possibly dislike something that gave screen-time to Noni? NONI!

I must have been feeling fairly brave when I sent in my review. In Australian universities decrying Helen Garner is grounds for having your Arts degree revoked.*


I think it’s tricky to dislike things that are objectively very good, especially when you know that you also enjoy things that…aren’t.

I like Buzzfeed and The Real Housewives of Melbourne. Here’s a brief sojourn from my discussion (rambling) to celebrate that fact:

I need Gina to be on RHONJ
I need Gina to be on RHONJ
I need Gina to be on RHONJ
I need Gina to be on RHONJ
“it was the editing”
“it was the editing”
“it was the editing”
So, I think I’ve rambled towards my hypothesis that publicly disliking ‘real art’ is fraught with judgement. If I were to reflect, I’d say I also feel guilty for judging people for enjoying what I’ve deemed to be rubbish. There are definitely times when I’ve forgotten that taste is subjective. I’ve forgotten that people are more like me than I know. They may like dancing around the room to Britney Spears, but that doesn’t stop them from loving, say – The Beatles or The Rolling Stones (i.e. something that the collective masses deem to be ‘good’). In the end, I suppose it might be about finding a group that shares your opinions, and thus validates them. However, I feel this probably needs to be coupled with open-mindedness and patience. In closing, I’m slowly working towards not having a world view that too closely mirrors this:


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