“In The Shark Net, Robert Drewe writes in a distinctive style that only serves to intensify the macabre connections within his story. How effective is this approach in maintaining reader interest? The novel, The Shark Net , by Robert Drewe immediately attracts and maintains the reader’s interest through its subtle and humorous writing. Drewe’s unique writing style, with all its dynamics is apparent throughout the whole novel. Reoccurring techniques such as humor, and unsensational writing style and by simply presenting the facts to his audience are evident and identify trademarks of the author, Drewe.
His intricately crafted memoir of self-discovery in the small city Perth, of the fifties and sixties is riddled with tragedies and unpredictable catastrophe. Drewe grows up along side the brutal and bizarre killings taking place in his local community. The story presents an additional complication when Drewe discovers that he knows the murderer, Eric Cooke. This is the main connection that guarantees the reader is drawn in and occupied in the story.
Drewe’s understated writing style is one of the main techniques displayed throughout the novel.
This is a style that only serves to intensify the horrific events this book is filled with. When we see Drewe faced with his mother’s death, a result of ‘boiling brain’, his subtle and understated technique truly becomes apparent. Rather than embellishing the events surrounding his mother’s death, Drewe simply displays the facts to the audience in a subtle yet impacting manner, which only emphasizes the weight of this experience for Drewe.
He sums up her death in just a few words”That afternoon she died. Boiling brain had finally got her. ”
Despite the overall seriousness of this novel, Drewe creates a balance through his distinct humour. As a grown man unfolding his childhood and teenage memories of the “Sand People”, who plagued the white-sanded, sunny coastline of Perth, Drewe includes insensitive humour, “Some boys ate themselves… nose-skin, cheek-skin, forehead-skin and especially shoulder-skin. ” By simply stating what he remembered from these people, Drewe incorporates a twisted sense of humour that ultimately enlightens the reader and adds some friendliness to the novel, an intentional and successful technique.
By describing other episodes in his life in a lighthearted manner, we see Drewe’s dynamic appeal, one that deepens his integrity to simply retell his story and fascinate the reader. Another example that demonstrates this effective technique is when Drewe recounts his first real kiss, “Our cheeks brushed and our lips smeared together and her mouth kept moving sideways as she pushed me aside – but not quite far enough – and vomited over my shoulder. ” Another technique, which is apparent throughout the novel, is imagery. This is one of Drewe’s most subtle techniques and it effectively draws the reader interest.
For instance, when Drewe describes the killing of Jillian Brewer by Eric Cooke, he describes the murder by simply telling us exactly how Eric Cooke went about it: “The killer had begun with a hatchet. He hacked into her face, breasts, thighs, stomach and pelvis. He severed her windpipe and fractured her skull and pubic bone. He struck so hard he split the hatchet’s handle. ” This enormously understated description paints a gruesome picture in the reader’s mind, which due to the precise use of words and facts, is incredibly detailed.
The way Drewe simply reports the facts to his audience is a recognizable trademark that is successful each and every time it’s used throughout the novel. An added technique of Drewe’s is his use of parallel stories throughout the novel. He writes his own story juxtaposed with that of Eric Cooke’s, ultimately keeping the audience in touch with the events in both worlds of the main characters. This technique demonstrates the connections between both himself and the killer, Eric Cooke.
When Cooke confronts thirteen year-old Drewe in his own backyard, showing how the two main characters worlds a brought together in a coincidental manner demonstrating how close to danger Drewe, his family and friends were to the mystery killer. “One morning a man I hadn’t seen before appeared in our back yard… Then he winked. I’m Eric. ” This confrontation gives the reader an insight into the unpredictable environment that young Drewe is surrounded with, depicting the innocence of the setting and the dark shadow Cooke cast over it.
This technique used throughout the novel is paramount in demonstrating the entwined connections between Drewe and Cooke, as a result, giving the reader a unique sense of power over the situation that is taking place. Drewe’s other effective technique is that of narrative perspective. This is a technique that only springs up in the concluding stages of the novel where Drewe alters his perspective, and is writing from the perspective of Sally Cooke, Eric Cooke’s spouse. This only exists because of an interview or recorded conversation between Robert Drewe and Sally Cooke.
“I felt compelled to ask Eric’s wife, Sally, about her life with him. ” The way Drewe once again simply states exactly what Sally says is a technique that furthermore draws the reader into the story and allows another point of view to be heard about the haunting actions of Eric Cooke. “I was swept away, the same as any teenager… I suspected him of infidelity rather that crime, oh yes. ” As a result of acknowledging Sally Cooke’s story, any questions the reader may have are answered.
Through this technique, Drewe intentionally establishes a sense of closure for the reader and ensures absolutely nothing in this story is left in doubt. The effectiveness in maintaining reader interest throughout “The Shark Net” takes place through the distinct writing style and unique techniques demonstrated by Drewe. Understating and unsensationalising, creating humour, generating detailed images, including parallel stories and changing narrative perspectives are all the trademark techniques Drewe is famous for and are the elements that keep the audience interested, intrigued and engaged from start to finish.