Robert Drewe: Bodysurfers

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For the suntan cream rom her bag she rubbed some briskly into her breasts with a studious circular motion paying attention to the nipplesDavidhad never realised how much her naked breasts actually moved They had three definite motions they were simultaneously bouncing swinging and shiveringLydia A Convenient Wife flicked a grain of sandrom one glistening aureoleIn another passage he waxes lyrical about how a woman is perched archly on the rocks with her high brown breasts pointing across the Pacific to New Zealand They re doing what sorryTrying to read a book where you have the distinct impression that the author had his dick out the entire time he was writing it was A Colton Target for me an extremely unpleasant experience I learned nothing about the characters other than theact that they were all mean and horny and gained no insight into the world except Love Isnt Enough for theact that most people are at the end of the day mean and also horny Such a shame that something I so thoroughly did not enjoy was written set entirely in the places I spent almost all of my young lifeOn a systematic level I had trouble keeping my attention Prodigal Prince Charming from story to story I think I understand the short story collection decisionor this particular general narrative but I just didn t enjoy the way it was laid out it el I might ve rated this lower immediately after reading but the collection has continued to resonate I picked up the Pocket Book edition on a whim during a layover in Sydney It s cultural treasure trove Drewe s portrayals of unattainable masculinity in Australia vividly evoked people I met during my travels For an American already perplexed by masculine identities in the States The Bodysurfers shed welcome light on those darn Aussie men It s a classic absolutely This was a bit unexpected as I had not realised that this is short story collection I know there has been a tv series so I was a bit surprised as most of these stories have little to connect them apart rom the beach setting they share I m assuming that the tv series is only loosely based on the bookThe blurb says the stories A Soldiers Family (Wings of Refuge, follow aamily through three generations but I really didn t pick up on a generational theme at all maybe I wasn t paying attention and maybe it really wasn t relevant to the stories being toldThese stories could really be set on any Australian beach at almost any time they are stories of life love isolation heartbreak and change and death Little glances into everyday life of ordinary people Three and a half stars Desejo Indomado (To Tame A Playboy, for meDrewe s short story collection was printed in the eighties and I could tell It reminded me in style and characters of aew of the books my boyfriend told me I just had to read back then When I did I disagreed with him Whingey blokes a grown man still upset by his parents divorce a perv harassing women tits etcmeh The stories have mixed uality so some are really uite good but ultimately this is another case of its well written but it s not Dangerously Attractive (Harlequin Intrigue for me Note There is a disturbing yet excellent story half way through about a pervert who likes hanging around the nude beach It captured a type so well brilliant but chillingAlso published on my blog The Long Hot Spell. Un and a lazy sensuality all the while hinting at a deep undercurrent of suburban malaiseFromirst publication these poignant and seductive stories marked a major change in Australian literature rom penguincom.

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At is often very casual sexual activity is a steady stream of oundering marriages The one married couple to survive an entire story together in the collection Angela and David in Looking Cinderella Story Part 2 (36 Hours) for Malibu It s kind of a sad statistic I thinkAgainst this backdrop of marital discord the sex at the beach promisesreedom A Ranchers Redemption from the constraints and disappointments of the domestic life without ever uite delivering it The beach screaming of escape is no mere playground but essentially ambiguous in its significance I was drawn to the cover illustrationirst A painting by Charles Meere Australia 1890 1961 Australian beach pattern aka Beach Pattern which won the 1940 Sulman Prize exhibition It was Meeres painting that prompted me to pick up the book Meere was one of a group of Sydney artists whose work modernised classical artistic traditions as a means of imaging national life during the inter war period The epitome of his vision by the late 1930s is Australian beach pattern a tableau of beach dwellers whose athletic perfections take on monumental heroic proportions Meere created a crowded and complex composition through a pattern of bodies which appear as a still life of suspended strength Perennially popular the painting has contributed than any other in Australian art towards the myth of the healthy young nation as told through the metaphor of the tanned god like body of the sunbatherI wanted to really love this book here was an Australian writer who had won the Walkley and was shortlisted A Doctor, a Nurse, a Christmas Baby for the Miles Franklin The problemor me with The BodySurfers is that the characters in the stories are not godlike and only superficially depict that myth of the healthy young nation and I don t mean physical but morally There is a good articleinterview with Drewe here 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 A Mother in the Making for the Australianrom 1971 to 1974 He won the Walkley Award Australia s highest such award twice Her Kind Of Cowboy for journalism in 1976 and 1981 Drewe s novel The Drowner was shortlistedor the 1997 Miles Franklin Award Fortune won the National Book Council iction prize in Australia One of his anthologies The Bay of Contented Men won a Commonwealth Writers Prize while another the best seller The Bodysurfers has been adapted or Through the Language Glass film television radio and stage Robert Drewe is also ailm critic playwright and the author of several screenplays His stage drama South American Barbecue was irst performed in 1991 Jesus Christ this was testing I wanted to like it so bad and the writing style itself is rom time to time skillful and descriptive HoweverThe entire time all I was thinking to myself was like my god did this book single handedly invent the male gaze I thought it was kind of a joke that male writers Private Arrangements (Forged of Steele, focus so aggressively on breasts when describing women but this took it to a level I could barely accept as being stylisticFor example get a load of this passage that made me want to die She removed her bikini top and her breasts uivering the nipples wide and brown in the sun she sat down Reaching. Changes of three generations of the Langamily this bestselling collection of short stories is an Australian classic The Bodysurfers vividly evokes the beach with the scent of the suntan oil the sting of the

Disappointing His characters repeatedly hurl themselves at life and lovers There is something very powerful and poignant in these stories so says one reviewerFor me though overall I You Are Not A Gadget found something ambiguous and essential lacking in the stories They let me down severely with tooew satisfactory resolutions Maybe that is what short stories are supposed to be about to leave you wondering I don t know I like a good twist at the end but this selection left me Sanctuary floundering like aish washed up and gasping on the shore Mostly it wasn t a good place I was left in Drewe does blend character development with absorbing scenarios Whilst each tale is different they all leave you pondering with deliberately loose ends to be considered The Bodysurfers vividly evokes the beach with the scent of the suntan oil the sting of the sun and a lazy sensuality but actually suggest a deep undercurrent of a sickly suburban malaise I start to like each story but by the end I m left with a bitter after taste that I can t uite put my Forever Faithful (Forever Faithful, finger on The Bodysurfers in locating stories at the coast the depiction of beach scenes in story after story soon suggests a preoccupation In Lookingor Malibu Peter Boyle expounds his theory on the beach You know something When Australians run away they always run to the coast They can t help it An American vanishes he could be living in New Mexico Arizona Colorado the mountains the desert anywhere Not an Australian he goes up the coast or down the coast and thinks he s vanished without a trace In Shark Logic Friendfluence for instance the protagonist who hasled his One Part Woman family has wound up on Australia s Pacific coast where he dreams of escape to New Zealand I was thinking about New Zealand when I left the shop this afternoon and set offor my usual walk along the beach Drewe s collection opens with The Manageress and the Mirage set on the West Australian coast Stranger from where the Indian Ocean stretchedlat and slick to Mauritius and beyond before curving into the sky Despite the Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis fact that Mauritius is thousands of miles across the oceanor Drewe the beaches of Western Australia suggest it The Bodysurfers mentions ar off islands and continents hinting at Australia s and New Zealand s geographical isolation and the intensity with which escape is longed or The beach as escape is not only signalled by its relative proximity to other places However Drewe marks the beach as the place at which illicit sexual activity occurs and in so doing contribute to a convention that has its origins at least two hundred years before them in the writing spawned by European exploration of the Pacific Commentators on Australian and New Zealand writing of the twentieth century also see the beach as the site of carnal pleasureDrewe exploits the sexual aspect of beach culture Nude bathers crowd his beaches The Manageress and the Mirage The English Spy (Gabriel Allon, finishes with a widower s encounter with a new lover The Silver Medallist closes with the revelation of the incestuous character of the relationship between a lifesaver and his daughter The Viewrom the Sandhills is the account of a pervert and ex prisoner who spies on nude bathers The preoccupation with wh. 'These stories breathe Taut yet teeming with life they are shot through with gritty phrases that catch at one's throat' Sydney Morning HeraldSet among the surf and sandhills of the Australian beach and the tidal.

Robert Drewe is among Australia’s most loved writers – of novels memoir and short stories His iconic Australian books include The Shark Net The Bodysurfers and Our Sunshine He is also editor of Black Inc’s Best Australian Stories annual series Recently he has revisited the short story himself with a masterful new collection The Rip Jo Case spoke to him for Readings about storytelling