The Cabalist

Amanda Prantera, Author Atheneum Books $12.95 (184p) ISBN 978-0-689-11829-6
In this highly accomplished novel, Prantera (Strange Loop conjures up the presence of the protagonist with uncommon skill. A doctor in Venice informs Joseph that he is terminally ill; before the final words, Joseph rushes home to complete the work that has absorbed his life. For Joseph is a modern-day cabalist, a magician, who has after long study discovered that the cabala must be deciphered not by means of the Hebrew language, but by the much more ancient Ugaritic. Feverishly he scribbles his testament, which he has been assured that the university will accept. But the committee jeers at him and Joseph determines to deliver his manuscript to the monastery instead. Setting out for the vaporetto that will take him to the island, he hears behind him the footsteps of the Catcher, the evil little boy who, Joseph is convinced, wants to steal his document and use his magic to do the work of the devil. In his haste, he trips, loses consciousness and awakens in the hospital, minus his manuscript. Forces gather; Joseph learns the truth about the Catcherand about himself. It is a tribute to the author that this fussy and obsessed little man immediately engages the reader's sympathy, and that the esoteric story works on the imagination with the compelling force of a thriller. (August)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
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