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.
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Each winter Philippe Cabassac taps through the undergrowth on his estate, murmuring entreaties to lei mousco, or flies. Drawn by the rich scent of truffles, flies lay their eggs in the loose topsoil, and Cabassac uses their presence to dig for the mysterious delicacy he calls "far more carnal, fleshy, gamelike than anything vegetal." And in this case, these black truffles have a strange additional power, one that gives Cabassac's hunt a special urgency: eating them brings on dreams of his dead wife, Julieta.
Approaching 50, the hero of The Fly-Truffler is a solidly built linguistics professor whose pet subject is the dying Provençal dialect. He lives in a dilapidated farmhouse, the family home for eight generations, selling off a parcel of land each year in order to make ends meet. Every sale is a kind of small betrayal, for Cabassac's roots in the Provençal landscape run deep. Like his ancestors, he goes "truffling every winter, gathering wild asparagus in the spring, flowering medicinal herbs each summer, and a plethora of pale, speckled mushrooms each fall." He belongs there as utterly as his young wife belonged nowhere.
Julieta was the most enigmatic of Cabassac's students. A tall, aquiline-nosed orphan, she grasped at the Provençal dialect as if by doing so she could forge herself an identity and a history. Their marriage was brief yet, for Cabassac, idyllic. Now, in eating the rich flesh of truffles, he seems to exchange "one buried thing for another." Desperate to prolong his nighttime contact with Julieta, he soon neglects teaching, his estate, and indeed all the obligations of his waking life--except for hunting the keys to the underworld where his wife dwells. As pungent and rich as one of Cabassac's truffle omelets, poet Gustaf Sobin's novel is a lyrical meditation on loss, love, and memory, as well as a vivid portrait of Provençal life. --Lisa GeeAbout the Author:
Gustaf Sobin is a poet and author of The Fly-Truffler. American-born, he has lived in Provence for nearly forty years.
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