In this collection of short stories, Robert Drewe applies his forensic powers of observation to the relationships and environments that shape our lives.
Robert Drewe was born in Melbourne on January 9, 1943, but from the age of six, when his father moved the family west to a better job in Perth, he grew up and was educated on the West Australian coast. The Swan River and Indian Ocean coast, where he learned to swim and surf, made an immediate and lasting impression on him. At Hale School he was captain of the school swimming team and editor of the school magazine, the 'Cygnet'. Swimming and publishing have remained interests all his life On his 18th birthday, already wishing to be a writer but unsure 'who was in charge of Writing', he joined 'The West Australian' as a cadet reporter. Three years later he was recruited by 'The Age' in Melbourne, and was made chief of that newspaper's Sydney bureau a year later, at 22. Sydney became home for him and his growing family, mostly in a small sandstone terrace in Euroka Street, North Sydney, where Henry Lawson had once lived. Robert Drewe became, variously, a well-known columnist, features editor, literary editor and special writer on 'The Australian' and the 'Bulletin'. During this time he travelled widely throughout Asia and North America, won two Walkley Awards for journalism and was awarded a Leader Grant travel scholarship by the United States Government. While still in his twenties, he turned from journalism to writing fiction. Beginning with 'The Sava
Most coastal dwellers have, at one time or another, had the terrifying feeling of being caught in a rip, where your legs are taken from under you and you are at the mercy of a force taking you somewhere beyond your control. The metaphor is apt for this new collection of short stories from Robert Drewe. Set mostly in coastal New South Wales or Western Australia, each of these stories focusses in some way on life events beyond the control of its characters. There are the literal forces of nature--the impending tsunami in 'Sea Level', or the snakes in the meditative opening story 'The Lap Pool'--but there are also the tides and eddys of human interaction. In the excellent 'The Water Person and the Tree Person', for example, a husband struggles with his wife's sudden announcement that they are inherently incompatible. A son tries to come to terms with his recently remarried father and their old ways of relating in 'The Whale Watchers'. Revelation is at the core of these stories. Truth comes in strange guises and in unexpected moments, which should leave literary customers (and lovers of Tim Winton) deeply satisfied. (See interview, page 47.) Shane Strange is a bookseller at Paperchain Bookstore, Canberra