Every night for twenty nights in a hotel room in Venice, a man recently diagnosed with an incurable disease writes a letter home to a friend
He describes the kaleidoscopic journey he has just made across northern Italy from Switzerland, while reflecting on questions of mortality, seduction, and the search for paradise.
Against a rich background of earlier journeys in literature, notably Mann’s Death in Venice, Robert Dessaix creates a compelling and ultimately uplifting account of a life enriched by a heightened sense of mortality.
“With its brio and intelligence, its marveling awareness of the wonders of our world and its sharpened sense of our own ephemeral place among them, Night Letters is a luminous gem.” Michael Upchurch, San Francisco Chronicle
“[A] wry, chatty, surprisingly cheerful voice in which [Dessaix] discourses on heaven and hell, seduction and sex….His central insight…is hard won and moving: that life may be lived best as a voyage, not to get somewhere or to accumulate experiences but to savor each moment.” Patrick Farrell, The New York Times Book Review
Robert Dessaix is a writer, translator, broadcaster and occasional essayist. From 1985 to 1995, after teaching Russian language and literature for many years at the Australian National University and the University of New South Wales, he presented the weekly Books and Writing program on ABC Radio National. In more recent years he has also presented radio series on Australian public intellectuals and great travellers in history, as well as regular programs on language.
His best-known books, all translated into several European languages, are his autobiography A Mother's Disgrace; the novels Night Letters and Corfu; a collection of essays and short stories (And So Forth); and the travel memoirs Twilight of Love and Arabesques. In 2012 he published the collection of pieces, As I Was Saying. His most recent book is What Days Are For (November, 2014). A full-time writer since 1995, Robert Dessaix lives in Hobart, Tasmania.