The Isle of Khería

Robert Cabot. McPherson & Co. (Ingram, dist.), $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-929701-98-1
Cabot’s latest (after That Sweetest Wine) follows the decades-long peregrinations of Joel Brewster and Aidan Allard through college, the battlefields of WWII, the Greek civil war, memory, hopes, and the fraught landscape of the heart. Still reeling from his wife’s death, Joel—now living in Canada—hears of Aidan’s tragic drowning off the coast of his adopted home of Khería in the Aegean Sea and decides to travel there to uncover the truth behind his death. During his journey, the history of their relationship is told through the points of view of characters living and dead, making for a rich—though often baffling—portrait of a complicated friendship. The highly stylized writing throughout provides occasional moments of quiet poetic beauty (“Swimming, wandering the maquis, bar-hopping in the town, forays into the mountains in a borrowed jeep... to trade cigarettes for fresh bread, wine, laundry, a French lesson”), but more often frustrates and impedes the story’s flow (“Drowned? His choice? His despair? For Greece, for his life, for me? I, had I failed him?”). The substance of the book, like an illusory island, feels lost in the sea of Cabot’s choppy—though impassioned—prose. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/05/2012
Release date: 05/01/2012
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