The Local Wildlife, by Robert Drewe, is a book I come back to again and again. It is beautifully written, has vivid imagery, and some pages leave me in stitches. It’s a rare book indeed.
For all of those reasons, I’m posting a review I originally wrote for my former blog in September last year, to kick off Art & Soul’s Book Club. Borrow this book from your library or purchase your own copy asap. You won’t be sorry.
**Originally posted on Lonely Arts (former blog) in September 2014.
If there was ever a book to capture the delicious headiness and strangeness of the Northern Rivers, Robert Drewe’s The Local Wildlife is it.
This wonderful collection of short sketches and observations came out in June, but after spotting its beautiful cover and making a snap purchase, I decided to save it for a recent island holiday.
I’m so glad I did. There was something extremely satisfying about knowing I could linger on the pages, with nothing else to do except watch the tide come in.
I savoured every word in Wildlife, hooked by Drewe’s knack of telling a story just so damn well.
He brings to life the sometimes dubious, often exotic, and always intriguing characters from his neck of the woods. Rich hippies, bickering neighbours, lonely farmers and Russian brides jostling for their slice of paradise along with various reptiles, ant colonies, drowned possums, carpet pythons in the roof and the Mullumbimby Monster.
I laughed, (yes, out loud) and when I least expected to. Drewe’s daughter was a source of much amusement when she popped up on the pages, thanks in part to her sweet musings on life, and the weird and wonderful things in it: Lady Finger bananas, Brian up-the-road’s camel, and bare-bottomed Gumnuts.
There were also a few moments of sadness in Wildlife, gently woven in to balance the humour. I still have flashes of the image of a lone wild goat, long ears flapping in the wind, the sole survivor of a herd ‘relocation’.
I think that is the real magic of this book. All writers want to leave an imprint that extends beyond the pages, and Robert Drewe does just that, etching himself on the imagination long after the last word has been read.
The Local Wildlife is a true investment for the soul.
The Local Wildlife, Robert Drewe (Penguin, $29.99)