On Writers


By Robert Drewe,
Picador 1986.

So outrageous is the structure of this book that it can’t be described, in the conventions we are used to, under seventy thousand words, which is its length.

An adventurer who seeks treasure from the sunken Fortuyn, a pretty private eye fresh out of California, and a cartoonist of the Lone Avenger, who became the Terry Hills Rapist, fill the major roles all right, but the uniting character is Fortune itself, in truth the narrator of incident, the drawer of the picture, so that mere chronology is misleading, and the only trustworthy guide is the astonishing value of coincidence.

The novel’s use of the continuous line to associate incident is part of the plot, clearly enough, but I think the book’s fly-leaf dedication, which is to cartoonist Bruce Petty, is as much part of the story as are any of the chapters. In preposterous tangle, it makes perfect artistic and worldly sense.

For the Good reading Guide
McPhee gribble 1989.