Puncher & Wattmann
Helen Garner and the Meaning of Everything
by Alex Jones
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An improvisation on a number of themes by Helen Garner, on one level this book is a study of literary semiotics and linguistic meaning. More importantly perhaps, it’s a careful picture of what it was like to be in Sydney, and living the life of the mind, during the Big Brother season of 2005.
“Almost absurdist, definitely brilliant … A delight to read”. — Kerryn Goldsworthy, Sydney Morning Herald
“A Da Vinci Code for clever people” — Sophie Gee, Sydney Morning Herald
“It will probably become an Australian classic … could be described as an Australian Pilgrim’s Progress … a great read.” — Helen Hall, ABC 702 review
“Fantastical cock and bull story … Part novel, part fantasy autobiography, part metaphysical fugue in the spirit of Lewis Carrol.” — Geordie Williamson, The Australian
“A farcical and slyly illuminating celebration of domesticity and more. The narrator - home-husband, grammarian (retired), endearingly grumpy old man - takes us on a Shandean dance towards Meaning that takes in everything from Saussure to Big Brother. Jones never puts a foot wrong.” — David Malouf
“A contemporary domestic idyll imbued with a droll wit, the record of a linguistic research trip to the heart of Helen Garner’s verbal universe, several adventures in cookery, a schematic diagram of poetry, time, metaphor, the seasons and gender relations, a meditation on the meaning of meaning.” — John Tranter
Alex Jones, after a brief career in the law, spent his working life teaching at the University of Sydney. His interests there have included Old English, linguistic theory, the literature of fantasy, and Australian English, both written and spoken, but he counts as his greatest intellectual influence time spent working on the Gurindji language at Wattie Creek (NT).