As we’ve already established that Helen Garner is basically my homegirl, or to quote Anne of Green Gables, we’re ‘kindred spirits’ (based on the one and only occasion where I have actually conversed with her). So, while I’m not a big fan of short stories, I thought I’d give her collection of short stories, titled Postcards from Surfers, a go.

Some shorter than other, some without a narrative, some without even a character’s name, all of the stories from Postcards from Surfers deal with longing, lost and sometimes grief. Sometimes for a relationship, sometimes for a person, or even for who they once were. Each of them are poignant and somehow feel very Australian. I’m definitely making a massive generalisation here, but many Australian novels from the 20th century (at least the one’s I’ve read recently) have sparse, simple writing that manages to paint an evocative picture, despite a lack of lengthy words. Postcards from Surfers is no exception to this (completely biased and made up on the spot) rule.

What I like best about Helen Garner’s writing is that she creates characters that are flawed, yet completely realistic. Not only do they feel like they are extensions of her own person, but they are created in a way so that you feel as though they are your best friend, or even yourself. Garner encapsulates the small details that make a person, the everyday aspects that we all do that all become influential to the overall storyline.

Though Postcards from Surfers isn’t as absolutely wonderful as The Spare Room or some of her non-fiction work, it was still an enjoyable read that I finished within a couple of hours. I was absorbed by the often faceless and nameless characters in her stories, and I became immersed into the Australian scenery and way of life that feature so heavily in her stories.

As an introduction to Helen Garner, I wouldn’t recommend Postcards from Surfers, but if you’re read her other books, then you will see how this one does justice to her lovely, simplistic writing. Plus, Australia! Why not, right?

Have you read anything by Helen Garner? Are you a fan of Australian literature? Let me know!

postcards from surfers by helen garner

Postcards from Surfers – (image taken from