Philippe Cabassac has fly-truffled every winter since childhood on his family estate. Since the death of his young wife Julieta, however, the truffles come to represent far more than a delicacy for his palette. They trigger now a series of dream visions in which he and his lost wife communicate.Philippe Cabassac has fly-truffled every winter since childhood on his family estate. Since the death of his young wife Julieta, however, the truffles come to represent far more than a delicacy for his palette. They trigger now a series of dream visions in which he and his lost wife communicate.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 1999-12-13 Sobin--a poet, novelist (Venus Blue) and longtime resident of Provence--breathlessly evokes the dying language and haunting beauty of that bucolic French province in his shimmering novel. Philippe Cabassac, a dedicated Provencal and professor of the nearly extinct language, is the gloomy middle-aged protagonist of this tale of obsessive desire. He fly-truffles every winter, hunting the wooded hills of his ancestral farmland for truffles by marking the location where the flies, those "golden keys," lay their eggs. Grieving over the untimely death two years before of his beloved wife, Julieta (she was a young student in his class), Cabassac has made the gradual and thrilling discovery that the ingestion of truffles creates a state of receptivity to nightly visitations by her. With each successive, sensuous dream, Cabassac comes closer to discovering the secret Julieta needs to impart. Obsessed with unearthing that odoriferous tuber, "the agent of epiphanous visions," Cabassac invites his dreams to consume his real life and he all but signs away his patrimony--his land and the ramshackle farmhouse where he grew up and only he and his aged aunt are left to inhabit. Sobin's prose is dense and aromatic, his descriptions gorgeously verging on the purple. Through flashbacks, Cabassac recalls the meeting and courtship of the strangely passive object of desire, Julieta, whose "amorphous immensities" the linguistics professor longs to fill "with every articulated cell of his being." Through a series of dazzling associations, she comes to embody the spirit of the land Cabassac adores: the "wild, resinous stands of pinewood," "salted meats hanging from rafters," "chaff flying like sparks in a high wind" and on and on. Sobin is deeply in his element, borrowing gothic strains from Edgar Allan Poe, and the more carried away he becomes, the more deliriously rich the reader's feast. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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