Robert Dessaix’s authorial voice reminds me of Christina Stead’s description of a small, clear wave running up a beach at low tide, playfully ‘ringing its air-bells’. He is not a writer of direct, declarative prose. Instead, Dessaix specialises in sentences that skip over and around their subjects, sometimes darting nimbly into brackets to investigate a second (or a third) thought, or diverging into a set of questions. Caressing and impeccable, his is a very particular voice, moving lightly across the page, though it could not be called superficial. If it sometimes takes a little too much pleasure in its own charms, it is, at the same time, sceptical and self-aware.