"In the streets of an ordinary Italian town, the people go about their everyday lives. In an old apartment block above them, a young man pores over photographs and plans, dedicated to his life's most important project.
"Day by day, in imagination, he is rehearsing for his greatest performance. Yet when his moment comes, nothing could have prepared him for what happens..."
"Like the dreams that regularly perturb their characters, the short novel, and the two stories gathered here are intensely enigmatic." - Times Literary Supplement
"one of the most effective and penetrating studies of the mind of a fanatic" - Financial Times London
"written with the beautiful clarity and sharp edges of cut crystal" - Sunday Telegraph
"Child's Play" 1981
"The Prowler" 1982
First Paragraph from the title story:
One afternoon at the end of autumn, during my last time at home with my father - a farewell visit is how I thought of it, though with any luck it might not be - I walked alone to an abandoned farmhouse on the other side of the stream that was up for sale at last and which I thought I might make a bid for; a way perhaps of ensuring the future would exist by setting my hand to an official document, a ninety-nine year lease.
I had known the place as a child and always loved it. It stands on a slight rise looking back into the valley, an unusual view that suggests that before there was a farm there the site might have had other, darker uses. Two ancient cherry-trees grow hard against the wall, there are pears, apples, half-a-dozen stunted olives; but what always attracted me to the place were the markings on its marble doorstep. A single stone, deep sunk and hollowed with footsteps, it might once, my father suggested, have been an Etruscan altar.
From the Penguin paperback edition, 1983.
This book was highly commended in The Age Australian Book of the Year Awards in 1982.
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Last modified: April 18, 2002.