Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, The tie-in: A Novel
It's 1949, the era of the mambo, and two young Cuban musicians make their way from Havana to New York. The Castillo brothers, workers by day, become, by night, stars of the dance halls, where their orchestra plays the sensuous, pulsing music that earns them the title of the Mambo Kings. This is a golden time that thirty years later will be remembered with deep affection. I...more
Seriously. Every page includes some reference to this horny old man's sexual escapades. It's gross. And a little depressing. Which is...provocative. I guess.
EDIT: I redacted my initial hatred-filled review. I might even consider re-reading this, from a non-sophomoric* perspective.
*I was a sophomore in high school when I first read this and hated it...
This is my first experience with Hijuelos, and I find myself wondering whether he's always so sex-obsessed. There's nothing wrong with sex in a novel, especially if it's well-written, but there are othe...more
Cesar and his younger brother Nestor arrive in New York full of ambition and desire to be musicians. They are talented and willing to work hard, and with some luck, put together an orchestra (The M...more
In the process however, we get vivid glimpses of life in Cuba before Castro, of Hispanic immigrants struggling to make it in New York City, of passion, of the fragmen...more
The characters are developed with sensitivity and pathos, real people with all the achievements, disappointments, foibles and contradictions we have become accustomed to in our own lives.
Perhaps the biggest asset of the novel is the writing itself. Hijuelos' prose is a torrent of...more
About 40% of this is really really bad, and monotonous to read. That includes all of the sex scenes (which make up about 30% of the book), and the narrator's really weird and disturbing fixation on the protagonist's member (which take up about another 10%).
But the other 60% was amazingly good, beautiful, evocative, lyrical, excellent writing about NYC in the 1950s and 60s, and Cuba in the 1930s and 40s....more
Oscar Hijuelos's novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love is a beautifully written historical novel about Cesar Castillo, who comes to New York City from Cuba in 1949 with his younger b...more
Author Hijuelos tracks a family from one country to another through the world of and a culture from one world t...more
This is a good novel to pick up when you need something you can seek your teeth into (damn!), or maybe more accurately, if you want something that'll sink its teeth into you. This book isn't much work to read, but I remember it being a fairly intense emotional experience. I know I was absorbed while reading it, and a few years later what I remember of it can pretty much be condensed into the following:
>>This is a novel heavy on nostalgia and memory where I could almost hear the music and feel the passion of the characters.<<
I am honestly not sure where some of the bad reviews here on GoodReads for this book come from, but as we say in libraries, "never apologize for your book...more
01/07/14 8.0% "As I get further along, I expect to understand why our narrator is so obsessed with the size of his penis."
01/07/14 13.0% "Okay, so he's a womanizing macho product of his culture. That explains it."
01/08/14 28.0% "Getting rather tired of the constant sex and penis-measuring masquerading as character development. But it's a Pulitzer winner, so I'll give it just a little bit more time."
01/12/14 41.0% "I'm calling it quits here....more
I have very mixed feeling about this book. I found it difficult to read. It is told in retrospect, and it has no chapters. That gives it an urgency, but it creates a sense of frustration as well. This isn't a book that a rea...more
Hijuelos was born in New York City, in Morningside Heights, Manhattan, to Cuban immigrant parents. He attended the Corpus Christi School, public schools, and later attended Bronx Community College, Lehman College, and Manhattan Community College before matriculating into and...more