Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Conductor's Book Club

Here's my attempt to be the Cuban male Oprah Winfrey and spread the word about a good book I'm reading. The problem with blogging about a specific subject matter is that it's hard to know if certain things have been written by other authors in the past. So forgive me if you've heard about this book before.

This book I'm currently reading was lent to me by a friend. It's entitled Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuba Boy. The author is Carlos Eire. I have to confess that I'm only up to page page 116 (it's a 390 page book) but I can recommend it just on what I've seen so far.

The author was part of the Pedro Pan airlift at the age of 11. The back cover gives this description of the book: "Narrated with the sense of urgency of a confession, Waiting for Snow in Havana is a eulogy for a native land and a loving testament to the collective spirit of Cubans everywhere." I agree but what makes this book worth reading is that it's funny. It's hard to describe the humor but I'll try. The author claims that his father believed in reincarnation and in a previous life he was Louis XVI. So in the entire book he refers to his father as Louis XVI. The author expresses his childhood disdain for lizards throughout the book

There's one particularly memorable passage about cohetes (fireworks).

Then there was the time when we tried to set up the first, last, and olny Cuban space program. Inspired by Laika's flight into space, we decided to launch a living being into outer space. And what creature better than a lizard?... We couldn't hide our excitement from one another when Eugenio showed up on his bike, sweating and grinning, and pulled a giant petardo out of his pocket. We carefully arranged the explosive device under the can so that only the wick was sticking out. Calling it a mere "firecracker" would be an insult. It could have been a stick of dynamite, for all I know.
I won't ruin the end of the story but it's pretty humorous, though the lizard met an untimely demise. But don't get the wrong idea, this book is not about animal torture but rather the recollections of a boy. A boy that could have been any one of us.

I highly recommend this book. It was published in 2003 and the paperback edition was published in 2004.

You can read an interview with the author here.



Val Prieto said...

I wrote about this book last year and even corresponded with Carlos Eire. The book is insiprational.

Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

Dammit! I knew you HAD to have written about it, that's why I had the caveat at the beginning of the post but I was hoping you hadn't. ;-)

Alberto Quiroga said...

Reading it brought back a flood of bittersweet memories, as in many ways the author's life experiences parallelled many of my own - and my family's - before and after the "revolution." It also brought home how proactive our parents were in getting us all out, while the getting out was still good, and my sister and I will be forever grateful for this demonstration of their love, unselfishness, and self-sacrifice.

A. Perales said...

I read the book last year and couldn't put it down. It's a wonderful story. After I read it, I passed it to my wife, who also read it non-stop.