23 October, 2014

Book Review: Monkey Grip

From Goodreads: Inner-suburban Melbourne in the 1970s: a world of communal living, drugs, music and love. In this acclaimed first novel, Helen Garner captures the fluid relationships of a community of friends who are living and loving in new ways.
Nora falls in love with Javo the junkie, and together they try to make sense of their lives and the choices they have made. But caught in an increasingly ambiguous relationship, they are unable to let go - and the harder they pull away from each other, the tighter the monkey grip.

Thoughts: I loved Helen Garner's The Spare Room and This House of Grief. I saw something on TV about Monkey Grip, which was her first novel so decided to download it to my kindle and add it to my holiday reading list.
Monkey Grip is one of seminal pieces of Australian Literature that's often included in best of or must read lists - truthfully I'm wondering why. If this had been the first Garner I'd read, it may very have been the last. It just seemed to go nowhere. There was lots of people going in and out of each others rooms and houses, often in the very early hours of the morning, drug taking, having conversations that were never described so you don't know what the conversation was about and fucking. Never called sex, making love, rooting - just fucking. It struck me as trying to shock or portray it as meaningless or insignificant, but it just jarred for me.
Maybe if I had lived through that time (it was written in 1977, I would have been 6 and obviously lived in a world far different to the one described in the book.) I would see the book differently, but it's not something that struck a chord with me.