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Mona and Other Tales

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  125 ratings  ·  10 reviews
Mona and Other Tales covers Reinaldo Arenas's entire career: his recently rediscovered debut (which got him a job at the Biblioteca Nacional in Havana), stories written in a political prison, and some of his last works, written in exile. Many of the stories have not previously appeared in English.

Here is the tender story of a boy who recognizes evil for the first time and
ebook, 208 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Vintage (first published September 11th 2001)
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Although all of the tales in this compilation display Arenas' literary talent, there were several that struck me as particularly enjoyable, while others dragged on or did not hold my attention in the same manner. Arenas has a tendency to pour emotions and impassioned observation over the reader, with some of his stories told within a single paragraph spanning many pages. Despite his knack for conveying vivid perceptions, I was really impressed by Arenas' ability to simultaneously tell multiple s ...more
Jerry Daniels
Anyone curious about any of Arenas's works after reading his autobiography or watching the film named after it, Before Night Falls, might want to explore this collection of short stories written by him. And should anyone pick up Mona and Other Tales, one might find that Arenas had a penchant for exploring black humor as well as the tragic. Of course, I think he is at his best when he writes about anything that comes across allegorical (as was the case with The Doorman). Of all the stories that I ...more
David Massengill
Arenas' inspiringly inventive collection of 14 short stories and one essay, many of which appear for the first time in English. The most inventive of these stories achieve a kind of contained giddiness, enabling us to see both the craft and magic in the author's work. When Arenas descends to reality, where Castro rules Cuba and any self- respecting artist must become an exile, his stories slide into despair. Friends turn into traitors, lovers become separated, and—as in the hellish "The Parade E ...more
Mark Van Aken Williams
This is a work of stories and other pieces of short fiction, much of which appeared to be experimental, or so it seemed to me because it resembled a bad nightmare. I’m not fond of reading ten or twenty pages and when I’m done I just shake my head and say, “What the F***?” In all fairness though, I did find one story, “Mona,” to be very engaging and thoroughly kept my disposition to incredulity aux abois. I know that Arenas is supposed to be one the Latin American greats (and they made a movie ab ...more
Bought at Strand after watching Before Night Falls.
This collection of stories is varied in style but worthwhile. The title story, Mona, is a page turner (esp if you like visiting the Metropolitan Museum and the pre-Guiliani dingy Times Square). The final story and paragraph in the collection is extremely moving. Arenas died of AIDS in NY after escaping Cuba and persecution b/c of his writing and sexuality. His take on both the island he left behind and the one he chose to inhabit (Manhattan) intrigued this reader.
Reinaldo Arenas is, simply, an amazing, astounding writer. I would say he is incomparable. Some of these stories leave you breathless in their intensity, some leave you trying to understand what you have just read but astonished by the caliber the writing. In his work, he has extracted everything possible from the experiences of his life and has told of these things with what I can only call brilliance. He is an unqualified master.
I stopped reading this book because I liked it too much. I'm really sad for the day that I finish it.

Mona is really scary and enchanting. My roommate just came home with a Mona Lisa reproduction and I'm not sure I can hang (but she certainly can...aah cha cha).

Jarod Roselló
A strange mixture of stories. Some great, some not so great. "The Parade Begins", "The Parade Ends", and "End of a Story" are three of the best stories I've ever read, though. Brilliant, beautiful prose.
I'm ready for a good book club pick; alas, so far I'm not feeling the love.
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Arenas was born in the countryside, in the northern part of the Province of Oriente, Cuba, and later moved to the city of Holguín. In 1963, he moved to Havana to enroll in the School of Planification and, later, in the Faculty of Letters at the Universidad de La Habana, where he studied philosophy and literature without completing a degree. The following year, he began working at the Biblioteca Na ...more
More about Reinaldo Arenas...
Before Night Falls Singing from the Well Farewell to the Sea: A Novel of Cuba Hallucinations: or, The Ill-Fated Peregrinations of Fray Servando The Doorman: A Novel

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