Thursday, 2 October 2008


I've just read Robert Drewe's new short story collection, The Rip. Drewe is one of Australia's foremost writers, with an ongoing and fruitful obsession with the ocean and with water: see his The Bodysurfers, The Drowner and The Shark Net for more along these lines.

I actually interviewed him once for the uni newspaper I edited at the time. What I only found out a few years later, and wish I'd had the opportunity to mention to him, is that his first wife later went on to be involved with my grandfather's older brother, a charming and intelligent pants-man who only died last year.


The Rip looks like this.

The photo is 'Orange Car' by Narelle Autio, a Sydney-based photographer also obsessed with the water. I love it: it's very evocative of my childhood summer memories with the saturation levels turned way up: the bay, the huge empty sky, the '70s car, the vast beaches (and I'm not even a beach person).

Under the book's dustjacket, the image is printed directly onto the book's boards:

This looks so good that I wish they'd been able to either minimise the type on the jacket, or even remove it completely (perhaps limiting it to the spine): the huge author's name in the sky distracts significantly from the photo.

The best story in The Rip, by the way, is probably the first, and longest, 'The Lap Pool', about a white-collar criminal awaiting trial who finds a red-bellied black snake trapped in his swimming pool. We once had one of these snakes come through a gap in our living-room wall, emerging from behind the TV to cause great consternation and excitement (I'm all about the personal anecdotes today, aren't i?). They (red-bellied black snakes) look like this:

(Photo by Greg Wallis, and stolen from here.)

Here are several other images from the same series of Narelle Autio photographs as 'Orange Car', Watercolours. They're type c prints, a kind of photographic process which uses both silver salts and dyes to give rich, striking colour.


'Big Wednesday'


'Shark Tattoo'

'Red Bathers'

See more by Autio at the Stills Gallery.


Sarah said...

I'm looking forward to reading this. I didn't realise the actual book had the photo printed on it- that's just one more reason to covet it!

The photo is very evocative of Australian childhood, I'm at Bronte again just looking at it.

JRSM said...

Yes, it had the same effect on me, except it was Horseshoe Bay near Victor Harbor.

JonathanM said...

It looks fantastic, except that I can't see a single trace of it being published in the UK, or even being available on import.

JRSM said...

It seems to be listed in the UK as 'The Rip (Famous Regiments)', which suggest someone at Penguin got it confused with a military history book. Very odd.

Steerforth said...

Stunning photographs and I like the snake story too.

Ian Brian Shimkoviak said...

Robert Drew could have been smaller and set in the same font as the title. That is my only beef. The photo is very evocative and works so well on the case.

JRSM said...

Actually, yes, that would work well too. They just need to let the phot breathe, so to speak.