SINAI TAPESTRY (1977) - Book 1 of the Jerusalem Quartet

American Hard Cover Edition
Holt, Rinehart & Winston 1977
Tales of a blind man, written down by an imbecile. Such is the genesis of the Bible in this raucous, unsettling account of recent and not-so-recent history with its richly entwined odysseys:

*Plantagenet Strongbow, twenty-ninth Duke of Dorset, seven feet, seven inches tall, the greatest swordsman, botanist and explorer of the Victorian age, who disappears in the Sinai in 1840 with his magnifying glass and portable sundial to reappear forty years later as an Arab holy man, after writing a scandalously accurate study of Levantine sex in thirty-three volumes, and disappears again only to emerge before his death in 1914
as the secret owner of the Ottoman Empire.

*Skanderbeg Wallenstein, linguistic genius and fanatical Trappist monk from Albania who discovers the original Bible in the Sinai early in the nineteenth century and finds it "denies every religious truth ever held by anyone." Horrified by this, he forges an original that will justify faith and buries the real Sinai Bible in Jerusalem, where it remains hidden until retrieved in the twentieth century by ...

*Hai Harun, former antiquities dealer and ethereal wanderer through history, born three thousand years ago, a shy knight wearing a rusty Crusader's helmet and faded yellow cloak while pursuing his hopeless mission as defender of the Holy City, and who, among many jobs in the service trades, has been a stone carver of winged lions during the Assyrian occupation, proprietor of an all-night grocery store under the Greeks, a waiter when the Romans were in power, and distributor of hashish and goats for the Turks. Discredited since the time of Christ, he has only one friend in modern Jerusalem, his loyal companion ...

* O'Sullivan Beare, the wily thirty-third son of a poor Irish fisherman, survivor of the Easter Rebellion and heroic guerrilla fighter against the Black and Tans, who flees to Mandated Palestine in 1920 disguised as a nun, uses false papers to take up residence in the Home for Crimean War Heroes though he's only twenty years old, and smuggles the first arms to the Haganah in a giant hollow stone scarab while working for ...

*Stern, son of Strongbow and a Jewish shepherd's daughter, exponent of a homeland for Jews and Moslems and Christians in the Middle East, witness to the massacre at Smyrna in 1922, and finally an ineluctable victim of the blood feuds of the area.

In the years leading up to World War II, the separate journeys of discovery begun in the Sinai a century earlier involve many lives in many places as the unending search goes on for the real Sinai Bible: the lure of a Holy City, the promise of the desert, the bewildering varieties of love and the hopes and failures given to time, the bright somber colors of invincible dreams and dying days, together weave the chaos of events into a whole and decades into an era.

"The Sinai tapestry of "lives that had raged through vast secret wars and been struck dumb by equalIy vast silences, textures harsh and soft in their guise of colors, a cloak of life" is a work of literature, a 'chaotic." book of life.....Whittemore is a deceptively lucid stylist. Were his syntax as cluttered as Pynchon's or as grand as Nabokov's or Fuentes's, his virtually ignored recent novel might have received the attention it deserves, for his imagination of present and alternative worlds is comparable to theirs….."
Anthony Heilbut, The Nation

"An epic hashish dream…..cosmic….fabulous….droll and moving"
New York Times Book Review

"Sit back and enjoy an outrageously wild and disparate cast…range over the Holy Land and other parts…highly original…Sophisticated, surreal fun with a cutting edge"
Publishers Weekly

"Whittemore is to Vonnegut what a tapestry is to a cat's cradle"
Rhoda Lerman

"One of America's best writers…an author of seismic talents…sets in motion an epic of profound invention, one that promises to be as fascinating and self contained as Lord of the Rings". Harpers

Reviews of Sinai Tapestry:
Fantastic Reality - a review of Sinai Tapestry and Jerusalem Poker by Lesley Hazleton
Sinai Tapestry - a review by Jay Neugeboren
Cosmic Cuts - review by Eric Korn
History on a Magic Carpet by Anthony Heilbut

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©Anne Sydenham 2001-2016