A cantata is a vocal composition with instrumental accompaniment, woven around a narrative. In Clare Goulet’s hands it becomes a rich story, weaving music, water and words into a beguiling tapestry. Cantata moves effortlessly between storylines, from a young woman who discovers she lost her twin sister to drowning, to Virginia Woolf, to Rabbi Ernest Klein with his history shrouded by WW II and his Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the English Language. Goulet is an adept and thoughtful writer, her characters are nuanced, and her love of the history and texture of language is obvious in this lyrical composition. Scattered with pieces of an original score and etymological citations, Cantata is a book that pushes the boundaries of form, while never losing sight of the importance of a captivating story.
It starts with a body.
It always does.
This one is face-down, floating.
The first memory is ocean, suck of salt water replacing air in open astonished gasps, the O, O, O of air bubbles disappearing above her head like cartoon surprise, two years old, too young to know that a nerve in her face was telegraphing another in her brain to save itself by turning off the tap of blood, which is breath, which is life, from little capillaries in her toes and fingers and arms, legs, everything – except for her brain and her heart.
"Most Anticipated: Our 2014 Fall Fiction Preview" (Kerry Clare, 49th Shelf, 05/08/2014)
Kerry Clare lists Cantata as one of their most anticipated fiction titles for fall 2014.