That Sweetest Wine
  • Author: Cabot, Robert
  • Binding: Clothbound, sewn, jacketed
  • Pages: 264
  • Size: 5 x 8
  • Pub. Year: 1999
  • ISBN: 0-929701-60-7
  • In Stock: Yes
Price: $25.00

"Robert Cabot's new book is as good a piece of writing as anything coming out of the United States. That Sweetest Wine deserves and surely will get wide readership."--FARLEY MOWAT

Vin santo, a strong, intensely sweet wine, was made by islanders in certain parts of the Mediterranean, from grapes that were laid out to sweeten on hot granite ledges in the autumn sun. Each of these elegiac novellas fuses traditional narrative and poetic prose to explore the naked feelings of loss. That sweetest of wines kindles implacable absence held in memory -- yet fortifies lingering hope.
The island villagers in Breath of the Earth recall the misery and joys of past lives, the heroes in battle against pirates and harsh gods, and their natural world now slipping away. In Rat in the Boardroom, the founder of an economic empire lies abandoned to his dotage on his sick bed, possessing a blindness which will inflict his descendants. In the final novella, Touch of Dust, a man's life is played out against a background chorus of his mother, his father, and his wives. Free-spirited youth, soldier in the Second World War,ß painter, sailor, outcast, lover-- he was all of these, and none, and yet...

A special Autograph Edition, That Sweetest Wine is being issued in a first edition of 1000 numbered copies, all signed by the author.


"In his first fiction in nearly 30 years, Cabot (The Joshua Tree, 1970) offers an exemplary trio of novellas, each occupied with the theme of reconciliation to oneself and one's losses, presented in often stunning prose.

Each tale is told from multiple perspectives -- generally, those of several male members of a single family -- spanning decades and, in the first novella, "Breath of the Earth," centuries. "Breath" chronicles a Mediterranean village's fortunes, conflicts, and sufferings. Cabot's rendering of places, though they are often too stylized to reveal their real-world basis, is marvelous. The olive trees, parched dirt, and wine, however underspecified (is that Mediterranean land really Italy?), become hypnotically real as a history of fierce pirates, wayward sons, and, the most powerful of all malefactors, modernization, unfolds. Cabot's scale and tone are intimate and sometimes impressionistic, but the pleasure of the volume is less in what happens -- often events that are hard to place or even identify -- than in the way the tales are told. Cabot's mode throughout is elegiac: his narrators are woeful through not bitter. In "A Rat in the Boardroom," a son learns and finally leads the business his father established. By selecting discontinuous scenes from different stages of each man's life, Cabot persuasively depicts the son's inability to comprehend his father's view of the world -- and the ways each man's values corrode the other's idea of what makes life worthwhile -- as intractable. The final tale, "Touch of Dust," completes the progression from village through family with its story of the solitary artist who attempts to wrestle his past into meaning and who emerges with an inspiring conviction about the love he has known.

For all its extraordinary lack of specificity, Cabot's incantatory prose memorably captures the dramatic tragedy of living, and the precious, endangered whimper of redemption."
-- Kirkus Reviews (October 1, 1999)

A veteran of many of the campaigns of World War II, Robert Cabot received degrees from Harvard and Yale Law School, served for ten years with the Marshall Plan and foreign aid programs in Italy, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Washington, D.C., and resigned the foreign service in protest over...

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