The Big Poo

These words immediately alert the reader to the fact that the story in this memoir reflects the reality of Drewe at the time, and that memories are unreliable, but that we all do the best we can when we recount events from the past.

About the book

Drewe divides his autobiography into a number of parts which also have sub parts and titled chapters. There is some attempt to have a roughly linear chronology though rather than following a conventional autobiographical structure that traces a series of milestones and goes into details about dates, ages and times, he uses a succession of incidents that combine to reveal the writer himself, his perceptions of his family members and his recollections of memorable incidents in his life. The writer does not get bogged down in exhaustive depth of each incident in his early life. The text keeps moving from event to event and the passage of time flows smoothly and seamlessly. The various parts of the text allow the reader to build up a sense of the reality that Drewe creates about his early life.

Drewe charts his earliest memories of childhood to his coming of age as a young father, and the struggles he faces growing up in one of the most isolated cities in the world. While there is a murder at the heart of this narrative, this does not take centre stage. Drewe explores what it means to have once met the murderer, to have one of his friends as a victim, and to be a cadet journalist who must report on the trial and how this affects him. These, however, are side issues, as his focus is on his family and how he functions within it.

In his author's note, Drewe states that 'This is both a book of memory and my portrait of a place and time' (p. 361). In the writing he has tried to show how he was shaped by the upbringing of his parents and the social setting of a particular time and place. He spends a deal of time describing the way that the city was built on shifting sands and how they were 'people of the dunes' (pp....