cover image Postcards from Surfers

Postcards from Surfers

Helen Garner, Helen Garper. Penguin Books, $4.95 (112pp) ISBN 978-0-14-008462-7

In these generally chilling and depressing short stories, Garner, an Australian, depicts careless, thoughtless and sometimes cruel characters who are full of pain. In ""Little Helen's Sunday Afternoon,'' a mean and spiteful child shows his young cousin pictures of deformed children. In ``Did He Pay?,'' a lazy, unmotivated musician, perhaps Garner's loneliest character, lives off women by virture of his gloomy romantic looks. But ``The Life of Art'' is hopeful: the narrator's friend is discussed amiably, and it becomes clear that the narrator is describing herself. ``A Happy Story'' ends the collection on a cheerful note, making the reader want more of the same. (October)