True Stories presents Helen Garner's journalistic oeuvre; the many crisp, genre-defying items Garner has written between her books. Each story strikes with knife-like precision, including this extract sent exclusively to you from Crikey. In it, Garner asks what the point of a writers' festival could be when writers tend, for the most part, to be anxious hermits. Perhaps you've been to a writers' festival with a particularly reclusive literary figure and wondered the same.

Somewhere between 1978 and 1992 the gilt had worn off the ginger-bread. Festivals had lost their festiveness and turned into work. Their magic had fled.

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