A colorful character who became an institution in the College’s flagship Rhetoric Program, Dr. Cabas passed away unexpectedly in February 2018 as he was putting finishing touches on the novel. Finalizing the manuscript and finding a publisher has been a labor of love for several of Cabas’ former students from both Hampden-Sydney and the University of Virginia, where he taught during summer sessions.
John Howard ’03, Will Horstman ’03, and Dr. Timothy Daniels ’03 were among the first Hampden-Sydney students to spend time working on Cabas’ Nelson County farm, where their relationship with the professor deepened and extended into lifelong friendship as they built a stone chimney by hand—part of Victor’s ongoing efforts to reassemble an 18th century log cabin on the property. A number of students from UVA also worked the land with Cabas over the years, including Caine O’Rear, who went on to a career as a writer and editor. Howard, Daniels, and O’Rear reunited in May 2018 when Victor’s former students, colleagues, neighbors, and friends gathered to spread his ashes on a hilltop overlooking the restored cabin. As college students almost twenty years ago, the three men worked alongside the late professor to bring the cabin project to completion. In the two years since his death, they have worked together to see Vic’s other life work, Postmodern Blues, through to completion as well.
Now available for purchase in hard cover and paperback, Postmodern Blues tells the story of Jack Shock, an English professor from Virginia who is on unofficial sabbatical in the highlands of Guatemala at the novel’s opening. “Fleeing a bad marriage and doomed academic career, Shock is lured home after learning his estranged father, a retired Air Force general, is on his way out,” O’Rear writes in his synopsis of the novel. “His return to the mainland sets off a mad-cap chain of events and the unearthing of a family secret that threatens to undo him. Along the way, Shock encounters a confetti of memorable characters in academia and the late-night bars of Charlottesville who illuminate this rollicking tragicomic adventure. Honest, not cynical, Postmodern Blues is a story about perseverance in the face of mortality, and the redemptive power of love.”