Dr Mark’s The Meaning in a Nutshell

Robert Drewe, The Shark Net (2000)

Robert Drewe’s The Shark Net (2000) is a memoir of his experiences between the ages of 6 and 21 growing up in Perth.  Told in a series of vivid anecdotes, the memoir records his experiences of boyhood, puberty, adolescence and his early maturity to become a young man with a wife and a family of his own and the beginnings of a successful career as a journalist.

As well as learning Robert Drewe’s story, his readers can also appreciate his portrait of Perth with its sun-kissed casual atmosphere, as well as appreciate the author’s portrait of an era: the 1950s and early 1960s.  This was a period of economic opportunity, unprecedented suburban affluence and of hypocritical sexual repression.  It was also an era that also saw the emergence of a more rebellious youth culture. 

As a memoir, The Shark Net is very much a book about memory and it reflects the subjectivity of the author’s perspective.  The characters are, for the most part, rendered as the author saw them from the perspective of their impact on his life. 

The great event that shattered the innocence of the author’s youth, and presumably the innocence of Perth (a city where people routinely did not lock their doors) was the rampage of a serial killer, Eric Cooke, who lived and committed his crimes perilously close to the author’s home.  By paying considerable attention to the serial killer and his crimes the memoir can be seen as telling parallel stories: one of a normal individual, the author, and the other of an abnormal one, the serial killer.  Towards the end of the memoir, Robert Drewe is a cadet journalist who was assigned to assist a court reporter covering the trial of the serial killer, the accused being a man that Drewe had previously met casually during his childhood. 

The author subscribes to the view that criminals are the products of an unjust and cruel environment rather than born with a criminal inclination.  The readers are invited to reflect on what went wrong with the serial killers life − the abuse, the rejection and the alienation − to make him become a menace to society. 

Student resources by Dr Mark Lopez

© Mark Lopez 2021 All RIGHTS RESERVED

The purpose of the concise notes of Dr Mark’s The Meaning in a Nutshell is to provide much needed help to students seeking to unlock the meaning of the texts with which they have to deal.  (More elaborate notes are provided in lessons as part of my private tutoring business.) 

Subject: The Shark Net meaning, The Shark Net themes, The Shark Net analysis, The Shark Net notes