"We all live secret lives. During the day, we're hardly aware of them. We don't let ourselves see them. Only in the night do they come into their own, our secrets, the pictures running through our heads. Not language. Pictures. Pictures that make us tense up and groan out loud. Nightpictures.
"Sailor drifts through Venice. He is haunted by nightpictures, his most precious memories, that leave him fearful, shuddering, close to ejaculation.
"His affair with Dieppe is meant to be 'pure l'erotisme'. No kisses, definitely no falling in love.
"Dieppe has memories that haunt her, too. As their sexual relationship plays itself out amid the crumbling walls of Dieppe's shabby apartment, the verbal and sexual collide. Stories become confessions, and sex a kind of absolution.
"But some stories should never be told...
"Explicit, provocative and disturbing, Nightpictures is Rod Jones' most commanding work to date."
When we look at other people we either want to fuck them or kill them. I don't know why the world tries to keep this a secret. It's something everyone knows, really. It's one of those secrets that are told only with the eyes. It's all in that first look. Just an expression in the eyes, and you know it's happened again. The secret has been communicated without a single word being exchanged.
When I was fifteen I learned to love secrets. I learned how to hoard secrets away in the dark. And I learned about the damage they do there, eating away at our insides. A secret is like a rat, or an ulcer. A secret always finds a way out, even if it has to gnaw its way through the lining of your stomach.
At the end of one of our weekly visits to 'the specialist', I was sent out of the room and I heard him say to my mother, 'In cases like this it's almost impossible to get it out of them. Sometimes people go to the grave with their childhood secret still locked away inside. It's the story that can't be told.'
From the Allen and Unwin hardback edition, 1997.
This novel was shortlisted the Miles Franklin Award in 1998.
About the Author:
Rod Jones was born in Melbourne in 1953. He studied English and History at the University of Melbourne, and has worked as a teacher in schools and universities.
His first novel, Julia Paradise, won the South Australian Prernier's National Fiction Award in 1988, and was runner-up for the Femina Etranger prize in Paris. It has been translated into ten languages and published throughout the world. His second novel, Prince of the Lilies, interweaves Minoan archaeology and contemporary Crete.
Billy Sunday, his third novel, was published in 1995. It was the winner of the 1995 Age Book of the Year for Fiction and the 1996 National Book Council CUB/Banjo Award for Fiction. The Boston Globe called Billy Sunday 'the Great American Novel'.
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Last modified: May 6, 2002.