Cover image for The shark net : memories and murder
The shark net : memories and murder
Drewe, Robert, 1943-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 2000.
Physical Description:
288 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR9619.3.D77 Z477 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Robert Drewe, whose literary stature in Australia is comparable to that of Richard Ford or Cormac McCarthy, is already capturing a wider world with work the Sunday Times of London calls "spellbinding" and the Independent "cinematically immediate, crackling with an intensity of sense." In The Shark Net, his first major work of nonfiction, he uses his lyrical sensibility to combine a deeply disturbing chronicle of multiple murder with a starkly intimate picture of his own adolescence.Perth has been called the most isolated city in the world, but Drewe's family lived in what was thought a comfortable, tidy little suburb on the "good" side of the Swan river. Appearances were deceiving. Across the river, living rather differently, was Eric Cooke, a man with a hare lip, seven children, and a habit of slipping over the river at night to murder whom he chose--including a friend of Drewe's. Drewe recreates the eerie unreality of a community held in terror for five years and events that marked him for life. This picture of the dark life hidden in the blandest of suburbs will resonate in America today as much as, or more than, anywhere in the world.

Author Notes

Robert Drewe was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1943. He grew up and was educated in Western Australia where he took up journalism with the West Australian in 1961. He was the literary editor for the Australian from 1971 to 1974. He won the Walkley Award (Australia's highest such award) twice for journalism in 1976 and 1981.

Drewe's novel, The Drowner was shortlisted for the 1997 Miles Franklin Award. It also made Australian literary history by becoming the first novel to win the Premier's Literary Prize in every state. It also won the Australian Book of the Year Prize, the Adelaide Festival Prize for literature and was voted one of the ten best international novels of the decade.

Other books by Drewe were also prize winners: Fortune won the National Book Council fiction prize in Australia. One of his anthologies, The Bay of Contented Men, won a Commonwealth Writers' Prize, while another, the bestseller The Bodysurfers, has been adapted for film, television, radio and stage.

Robert Drewe is also a film critic, playwright and the author of several screenplays. His stage drama, South American Barbecue, was first performed in 1991. In 2015 he will be awarded a State Living Treasures Award by the Western Australian state government. The award is given to `highly regarded and skilled¿ career artists who have worked within or created work about Western Australia, passed on their knowledge to other artists, and demonstrated a commitment or contribution to the Western Australian arts sector.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Drewe, one of Australia's best known and most respected novelists, has an unusual past: he lived across the river from a killer, a man who, over the course of five years, terrorized an entire community and killed one of Drewe's own friends. This fine, moving book is both a charming and funny memoir (Drewe's childhood in Perth was filled with adventure and humor and excitement) and an unsettling true-crime story. Eric Cooke, the menacing, murderous monster, is an eerie presence, a kind of shadow that turned the happy, sunny community into a dark, foreboding place. Drewe is a careful, precise writer, and his ability to create vivid pictures with only a handful of words is virtually unmatched. Fans of Drewe's well-respected novels will definitely want to check out this autobiography, and readers of true crime are in for a special treat. --David Pitt

Publisher's Weekly Review

At first glance, this memoir is reminiscent of such classic true crime memoirs as Ann Rule's A Stranger Beside MeÄbut Australian literary sensation Drewe (The Drowner, etc.) has more in mind than sharp reportage here. He looks back at the years, in his youth, when his hometown was racked by a series of brutal murders. Reflecting on these killingsÄincluding that of a boy who'd been his friendÄopens up a gloomy window onto Drewe's lonely childhood. His family had moved from cosmopolitan Melbourne to the "sandy moonscape" of 1950s Perth in western Australia. Drewe starkly renders this isolated realm of provincial whispers, suburban boredom and frustration. His father, a rising star with his employer, is distant in every way: he only half jokes that he loves the company more than his wife, and rarely engages Drewe and his brother in any father-son activities. Drewe's mother is no less remote for her overprotectiveness; over time, her spiritually empty moralizing grows vicious. This emotional climate makes Drewe's adolescent traumas surrealÄand complements perfectly his account of the senseless and random murders, which at times is deeply affecting. Unfortunately, in his first major work of nonfiction, the author's anecdotes frequently go nowhere. As a result, the bookÄwhich drifts along lazily instead of dreamilyÄisn't as effective as it could have been. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Drewe, an Australian novelist, playwright, and journalist, comes close to nailing it in this work of nonfictionDa coming-of-age, true-crime story. Growing up the eldest son of an upwardly mobile businessman, he lived what in many respects was an idyllic life amid Perth's bountiful sun and sand. However, there lurked a Peeping Tom, an unplanned pregnancy, and the death of a parent (precipitated, perhaps, by the actions of the son). And half a decade of murders: one victim a friend of the author, one murder committed with another friend's hatchet, and all eight done by a man known by the author. In his recounting of these events of his formative years, Drewe succeeds in reminding us that the dark side is always near. However, as the book progresses, we find ourselves wanting to know more about the murdererDan unusual combination of serial and spree killer who struck with rifle, hatchet, and even automobileDand perhaps less about the author. Recommended for larger public libraries.DJim Burns, Ottumwa P.L., IA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.