In this moving sequel to The Shark Net, and with his characteristic frankness, humour and cinematic imagery, Drewe travels to the Montebellos to visit the territory that has held his imagination since childhood.
'Listen to me,' my mother says. 'They've let off an atom bomb today. Right here in W.A. Atom bombs worry the blazes out of me, and I want you at home.'
In the sleepy and conservative 1950s the British began a series of nuclear tests in the Montebello archipelago off the west coast of Australia. Even today, few people know about the three huge atom bombs that were detonated there, but they lodged in the consciousness of the young Robert Drewe and would linger with him for years to come.
In this moving sequel to The Shark Net, and with his characteristic frankness, humour and cinematic imagery, Drewe travels to the Montebellos to visit the territory that has held his imagination since childhood. He soon finds himself overtaken by memories and reflections on his own 'islomania'. In the aftermath of both man-made and natural events that have left a permanent mark on the Australian landscape and psyche – from nuclear tests and the mining boom to shark attacks along the coast – Drewe examines how comfortable and familiar terrain can quickly become a site of danger, and how regeneration and love can emerge from chaos and loss.
'[Montebello] has this wonderfully novelistic flow that draws you back to another time. William Yeoman, West Australian
'Superb writing and skilful interweaving of the different strands in this book make it a pleasure to read.' Lisa Hill, ANZ LitLovers
'Creating … a complex picture out of discrete though related narrative chunks …Montebello is a fragmentary book but a perfectly integrated work of art. Drewe's literary instincts are as impeccable as his ear for the English language is unfaltering, and his latest memoir has all the more force for being set down with such a delicate hand.' Richard King, Weekend Australian
'This is a splendid memoir with many moods – delicate, tough, ironic, compassionate – that are beautifully controlled and paced.' Brian Matthews, ABR
W.A. Premier's Book Award
Shortlisted • 2013 • Non-Fiction
Waverley Library Award for Literature
Longlisted • 2013 • Best Book