Soñar en cubano by Cristina García

View from this book:

I read this book over slow weekends over one summer, carrying it with me to beautiful places like this:

 

lazing at the Signal Mountain beach, reading Soñar en Cubano by Cristina García

lazing at the Signal Mountain beach, reading Soñar en Cubano by Cristina García

and finally finishing it the day before I summited the Grand:

at the top of the Grand

chillin at the top of the Grand Teton

Over the spring, my brother took a literature course that focused on the writings of Chicanas who were mostly from the Caribbean.  I borrowed his required reading list and have been slowly making my way through some of the books.

The Book:

Soñar en cubano is a classic generational saga full of magical realism, divided loyalties, betrayal, and delicious-sounding Cuban food.  It is full of epic drama, and while I loved the prose, the stories were just too… drama-y. The main characters were mainly driven by motivations that didn’t ring true to me, or at least didn’t resonate with any of my life experiences.  (Um, maybe if I were Cuban?  Or drama-y?)

Due to my lack of verve surrounding this book, I’m feeling too lazy to actually write my own blurb of it.

Go, go, plot-summary gadget!  (Er, that is, go, go, googling skills!) Thanks to Lecturalia for providing such a beautiful summary:

Soñar en cubano es una de las novedades literarias más sorprendentes de los últimos años. A través de cartas , diarios y recuerdos, Cristina García cuenta la historia de cuatro mujeres pertenecientes a una familia dividida política y geográficamente por la revolución Cubana. La narración nos lleva con fluidez del presente al pasado y de Nueva York a La Habana, revelándonos un mundo fascinante, atravesado por la pasión amorosa y las diferencias generacionales, el compromiso político y la fuerza de voluntad, la inestabilidad y la determinación. Mientras Celia, ferviente defensora de Fidel Castro, permanece en Cuba junto a una hija que se une a los cultos afro-cubanos, su otra hija combate el comunismo desde el mostrador de una pastelería de Brooklyn y vive obsesionada con su propia hija, una rebelde artista punk. Pero, a pesar de estos enfrentamientos, madres e hijas se ven unidas por lazos de cariño y ternura que superan toda distancia. Sus tormentosas relaciones culminan en un emocionante encuentro qué les permite descubrir en que lenguaje están soñando.

I’m just feeling a little meh.

6 out of 10.

sonar en cubano

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Mañana, Mañana by Peter Kerr

View from this book:

Reading and frolicking in the summertime of 2012.

The book:

Having lived for a year (well, eight months, but who’s counting?) on Mallorca, I’m happy to read about my temporary home.  This book was written by a Scottish chap who, along with his wife and two teenage sons, bought a small finca on Mallorca with the intention of settling down.  He narrates charmingly the family’s first summer on Mallorca, although with the amount of anecdotes supplied in order to make this book readable, I’d imagine that a lot more summers’ adventures were condensed into this particular literary-worthy emblematic summer.

If you haven’t lived on Mallorca, then I’m not sure how you’ll react to Mañana, Mañana.  A lot of the “hilarious” stories weren’t actually funny, and a lot of the book’s inherent quirkiness depends on your being able to nod sagely along with the author because you, too, have encountered old Mallorcan women on your walk home every day. (Although, some reviewers apparently thought it was better than A Year in Provence, which similarly details an Englishman’s settling into southern France. So, if you’re into expat-living-with-charming-natives narratives, then this might be your cup of tea, whether you know anything about the island or not).  Apart from the author’s rather terrible mallorquín, the book gave a loving and accurate portrayal of Mallorca about a decade ago, and I loved reading about bits of the island that I’d learned to treasure.  6 out of 10.

Mañana, mañana 2

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Snapshot of me reading:

Spending the last bit of Christmas break ’11 at home in Montana, dreading the start of school.

The book:

I was fully prepared to hate this book.  The movie was dumb.  Lots of people I respect said it was dumb.  However, lots of people I respect also said it was wonderful and that it was one of their favorite books of all time.  (And didn’t everybody else and their mother read it? so I thought I should, too.  Who doesn’t love a bandwagon?)

Turns out, I didn’t hate it.  I didn’t love it, either—I read this book with quite a bit of schadenfreude, as I realized that the Liz Gilbert types out there—the gorgeous, chatty social butterflies—are not always perfectly happy in their flawless skin.

  • POINT 1 AGAINST LIZ: You are way too “ermehgerd I’m sooooo gorgeous—let me tell you how hot young men want to have sexy times avec moi.”
  • POINT 1 FOR LIZ: You are not happy.  My sympathy gauge just went up a tiny bit.

Even as Liz’s descriptions of herself made me want to never, ever meet her in person (one Amazon reviewer described her as “tragically vacuous,” and she truly sounds like she’s one of the most annoying people on the planet), I couldn’t help but enjoy her writing.

  • POINT 2 FOR LIZ: You are an excellent writer.
  • POINT 2 AGAINST LIZ: Please, please just shut up about yourself.

She chronicles her journey of self with clarity, wit, and (we readers assume) honesty.  As an excellent writer, Liz describes her search for happiness and inner peace through her months in Rome, Italy, an Ashram in India, and Bali, Indonesia exceptionally well, and I happily went with her for every step of her journey, thanking God I’m not in her shoes.

  • POINT 3 FOR LIZ: Actually, I’m glad that you realized your perfect life was meaningless and that you went on a quest to find yourself. Go people!  Go enlightenment!  I’m rooting for you, Liz.
  • POINT 3 AGAINST LIZ: Too bad you found yourself right back where you started: as an annoyingly self-obsessed, anxious person who seems to only find self-worth in relation to the men you’re with.
  • POINT 4 FOR LIZ: You made me feel great about my life!  Thanks!
  • POINT 5 FOR LIZ: To end on a good note, you really are an excellent writer, and I promise I’ll go look up some of your fiction, because if the main character weren’t you, then I’m sure I’d love the story.

This ended up being a good book to start off the new year, and to say goodbye to a lovely, restorative month of holidays.  6 out of 10.

Eat Pray Love