2018, 209 p.
It would come as no surprise that this collection of short stories should coalesce around the theme of the sea. Several of Robert Drewe’s earlier works reference water: The Bodysurfers collection of short stories, The Drowner (which, admittedly was more about the arid outback than water) and his own memoir The Shark Net. But it’s not just the Australian sea that provides the background for many of these stories: instead we travel to a Pacific Island and to Cuba, as well as more recognizable beach-side settings.
I always find it hard to review a collection of short stories as a precis often gives the whole story away: by its very nature a ‘short’ story doesn’t have a lot of flesh to cut away. I tend to flip through, and if I can remember the scenario, then I feel that the story has worked for me.
On that basis, I enjoyed ‘ Another Word for Cannibals’ where an earnest, progressive, European couple returns to a Pacific island to complete the genealogical circle of their great-great-great grandfather’s missionary endeavour. ‘Varadero’, set in a down-at-heel Cuban hotel really appealed to me, as it captured Cuban tourism so well. ‘Lavender Bay Noir’ is slightly creepy in a domestic sunlit, sea-kissed setting. ‘Spotting Killer Whales’ involves an adult family gathering together in a restaurant overlooking the sea after their father has died. The eponymous ‘The True Colour of the Sea’ has a historical setting, where a colonial artist is left an a rock in the Arafura Sea.
These eleven stories were just the right length as far as I’m concerned. They were long enough to get your teeth into, but were easily read as a story-before-bedtime read. Drewe is such an accomplished writer, confident and clear-eyed.
Sourced from: Yarra Plenty Regional Library
Read because: I saw it there on the library shelf
My rating: 8.5/10