Dreaming in Cuban is better, but I appreciate this one for its ambition and for the character of Won Kim. García's prose-poetry here is often overdone...moreDreaming in Cuban is better, but I appreciate this one for its ambition and for the character of Won Kim. García's prose-poetry here is often overdone but consistently gorgeous.(less)
While Arenas' memoir has the pretensions of being a heartbreaking literary account of life in Castro’s Cuba for a homosexual writer, it is really a hi...moreWhile Arenas' memoir has the pretensions of being a heartbreaking literary account of life in Castro’s Cuba for a homosexual writer, it is really a highly embellished narcissistic machismo fest in diary form by a dood who has had a lot of issues since childhood (see: raping all the animals on the farm) who feels oppressed when he can’t have sex and masturbate in public. :((less)
Notes: This book takes place in IOWA! So I chose it out of the selection of Roberto Ampuero's books in Prairie Lights. I have put this book aside temp...moreNotes: This book takes place in IOWA! So I chose it out of the selection of Roberto Ampuero's books in Prairie Lights. I have put this book aside temporarily in order to have room to read Ricky Martin's memoir.(less)
I have to say that I hardly remember Dreaming in Cuban's characters and story. In fact, a few weeks after finishing it, everything had left my memory...moreI have to say that I hardly remember Dreaming in Cuban's characters and story. In fact, a few weeks after finishing it, everything had left my memory except for certain strong impressions--its atmosphere, images, & emotions--all of which eventually blurred together and remain with me a year later. Whether this is a good sign or something unintended by the author, I haven't really figured out. Either way, I am still totally amazed by its dreamlike effects.
García carries us on her lush, poetic prose into the lives of a split family, mainly of its women: Pilar and her mother Lourdes who live in the US and Pilar's grandmother who is back in Cuba. Of course, there is some interesting generational conflict and peeks into their past (and Cuba's)--deep traumas presented with a dose of magical realism.
The narrative is fragmented but smooth, like a dream, pulling you along with changing POV's and ethereal and/or striking anecdotes. So the plot (if it exists) really does not seem to have any kind of direction, nor a real ending. But in the end, I found myself pleased with the reading experience. I enjoyed each moment of the writing. It was like slowly eating a rich tropical fruit that happened to be my only source of sustenance, only sometimes crying at the same time--you know, getting stabbed by some pungent sadness. Whenever I sat down to read I felt the air around me go humid and I breathed it in from the pages. Fo' reals.
When they returned, it [the del Pinos's house:] was like an undersea cave, blanched by the ocean. Dried algae stuck to the walls and the sand formed a strange topography on the floors.
The air was different from Cuba's. It had a cold, smoked smell that chilled my lungs. The skies looked newly washed, streaked with light. And the trees were different, too. They looked on fire. I'd run through great heaps of leaves just to hear them rustle like the palm trees during hurricanes in Cuba.
I will stop spoiling everything now, but yeah!
Something cool to note is García's mother tongue's influence on her natural style. Take this sentence, por ejemplo:
She imagines her granddaughter pale, gliding through paleness, malnourished and cold without the food of scarlets and greens.
Another reviewer mentioned that Cristina García initially tried writing this novel in Spanish. This really fascinates me. García is definitely in her element in English.
Interesting too in Dreaming in Cuban is the relationship between imagination & memory and history and how it helps people to cope. García gives it some lovely & moving though incomplete exploration in the stories of these women. [In regards to this theme, for something that is whole & thought-provoking & heartbreaking, do also read Nicole Krauss's The History of Love which I kind of think is a total masterpiece.:]
Dreaming in Cuban was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1992.
This is why: I think of Flaubert, who spent most of his adult life in the same French village, or Emily Dickinson, whose poems echoed the cadence of local church bells. I wonder if the farthest distance I have to travel isn't inside my own head. But then I think of Gauguin or DH Lawrence or Hemingway...and I become convinced that you have to live in the world to say anything meaningful about it.
I've added this book to my favorites list and hope to read García's Handbook of Luck or Monkey Hunting in the near future.(less)