FADED DREAMS: A Cuban Memoir – Faded Dreams is an epic autobiography by my fellow writer and good friend Carlos Rubio. Beyond being a very personal story of a young man growing up to the backdrop of this remarkable country of Cuba, there is as well a political subplot of a country that is dragged through the mud by one of the most ruthless dictators in recent world history. The people who populate his world all fantastically come alive on the pages; Carlos does so well in telling how special they were to him, and are still special today. This book now gives us a close-up, in your face look at the very human side of Cuba as seen from a young man who lived there and experienced it as could be described as its rise and fall. Carlos was sent to the United States at a young age by his parents after Castro took over. Things there only get worse. Living in the safety and prosperity of the United States as an adult, Carlos periodically looks at photographs of family and friends he was so fond of in those days before the Revolution. They are no longer alive, but his doting on those photos vividly brings them back to life on the pages -it gives the reader a sense of timelessness and tells how powerfully a childhood was impacted by those people, especially the incredible person that was his father, a man from whom he could never separate himself. — Alan Hodgkinson (Author of After Incoming) . Buy From Amazon.com
FORGOTTEN OBJECTS traces the life of Anna d’Amio, daughter of opera singers Louis and Francesca d’Amio, from Mussolini’s Italy to the city of Pittsburgh during the mid sixties. The novel proper is made up of three parts: Italy, Cuba and United States. Married at seventeen and widowed at twenty, Anna leaves war-torn Italy to find her fortune in Cuba, where she eventually meets Ramón Contreras, a wealthy tobacco grower who later becomes her second husband. The idyllic world that the couple had so laboriously built suddenly comes crashing down after the communist take over of the island and Ramón’ s sudden and violent death. Now with two daughters under her care, Anna soon realizes that there is no future for them in Cuba, so she opts to send them to the United States through the Pedro Pan Program. Eventually she comes to the US herself, but by then the girls have been placed in foster homes. It is during this stage of her life, penniless and without influence, that she must make the greatest sacrifices to regain custody of her daughters. At the end of the novel, we find a series of letters, all dated 2005, that were exchanged by the sisters after their mother passed away. Anna left behind a box containing a collection of sundry items that she had collected throughout her life. Cognizant that these were significant for their mother, they attempt to piece together a sketch of her life through these forgotten objects. Buy From Amazon.com
AMERICAN TRIPTYCH – Carlos Rubio presents a new tongue-in-cheek masterpiece that scales new heights of satire even as it follows the life of a young protagonist in his journey through growing up and into manhood. In the first part entitled The Neophyte, Rubio unfolds the life of a young boy rescued from a flood by a somewhat dysfunctional convent of nuns. Bullwhip, the second installment, continues the adventures of the adolescent young man as he enters high school. California Fever concludes the exciting trilogy, exploring a more contemporary theme of events that begin with the young protagonist losing his memory after surviving an earthquake.
Absolutely hyperbolic, parodical and phallic, American Triptych will tickle the brains and funnybones of readers who don’t mind the racy overtones and unrestrained sarcasm beneath the funny storyline. Buy From Amazon.com
ORISHA – Arraigada en el folklore afrocubano tan bien captado por Fernando Ortiz, Lydia Cabrera y Alejo Carpentier, Orisha dibuja una elipse que magistralmente enlaza el ámbito primigenio de la isla con el contemporáneo. Desde el punto de vista anecdótico, toda esta nueva novela de Rubio traza el desenlace del vaticinio de un babalao lucumí que anuncia con detalles el nacimiento y futuro de Ignacio Benítez, alias Agua Dulce. Mulato de ojos azules, Ignacio es el elegido sucesor del brujo lucumí y el encargado de ratificar la veracidad del pronóstico de los caracoles courís sobre su propio destino. Desplazándose desde la Cuba originaria hasta la revolución fidelista de 1959 y el subsiguiente éxodo a tierras floridanas, Orisha describe y recoge sensualmente la riqueza del paisaje guajiro, el sabor de su tierra tostada y suculenta, el mundo alucinante y fogoso de la zafra, la decadente vida nocturna de la capital cubana y el Miami comercializado de la emigración. El autor se regocija en la confección de barrocas descripciones en las que se injertan a menudo breves e insólitos símiles que enriquecen la narración con sensuales y briosas imágenes comparativas. Gran parte de la novela se regodea en un extenso retozo intertextual con personajes de otras novelas de Rubio así como de otros provenientes de textos de Severo Sarduy y Lezama Lima, sin excluir técnicas y descripciones mágicas o fantásticas muy propias del maestro del Realismo Mágico, Gabriel García Márquez. Orisha es, en su totalidad, un lúdico experimento artístico que mantiene el interés del lector de principio a fin al mismo tiempo que lo reta a explorar los diversos vínculos que la unen a la polifacética cultura cubana.. Buy From Amazon.com
SECRET MEMORIES / RECUERDOS SECRETOS, a stream of consciousness work, deals with the odd relationship of the two nameless characters (a man and a woman) in a deserted beach house. She paints; he writes. They seldom talk, yet their lives are irrevocably linked. The climax comes one spring evening. She has completed the canvas that has occupied her feverish nights for so long. It is a painting of a Chinaman holding a dagger, with a woman-herself-at his feet. The face on the painting is that of the male character. It is at this point that they both accept, surrounded by the music, the sound of the surf and the smell of incense, their unavoidable fate. (English and Spanish) Buy from Amazon.com
La novela examina la extraña relación de los dos protagonistas sin nombre (un hombre y una mujer) en una casa de playa desierta. Ella pinta; él escribe. Hablan con poca frecuencia, pero sus vidas están irrevocablemente unidas. El clímax llega con la primavera. Ella ha completado el lienzo que ha ocupado sus noches febriles por tanto tiempo. Es el cuadro de un chino blandiendo una daga con una mujer a sus pies. Su cara es la del protagonista. Es en este momento que ambos aceptan, odeados de la música, el sonido de las olas y el olor del incienso, su destino insoslayable. Comprar en Amazon.com
BULLWHIP, second in a trilogy of satirical novels (The Neophyte / Bullwhip / California Fever), focuses on the protagonist’s senior year of high school. Since the moment of his abrupt and unexpected arrival, we realize that this brazen young man is out of control. His ‘I don’t care attitude’ soon sets in motion a series of events where he must overcome simultaneously a number of challenges: a gang led by tough Ramrod; the sexual advances of Ms. Hilda, the school vice principal, and the brutal treatment at the hands of Linwood Lovelace, the local sheriff.
Everything comes to a head during a tent revival led by Reverend Anal Roberts. Ramrod, Ms. Hilda, sheriff Lovelace are all there, looking to even the score with Bullwhip. In a stunning reversal, all accounts are settled and, once again, Bullwhip comes out on top. (English) Buy From Amazon.com
ORPHEUS’ BLUES is a novel of self-discovery. We first meet Jack Stewart on the way back to his apartment in New York City, where he is pursuing a career as a jazz musician. As the novel unfolds, we learn of the difficulties he encounters, of the friendship he develops with George, his roommate–also a jazz musician–and the women he meets in the city. But more importantly, we learn of the very close relationship he has with his mother, who writes to him regularly from southern Virginia. Through these letters and a series of flashbacks, we come to understand Jack’s background, the stifling environment he left behind, and his father’s resentment and disappointment that he did not take up the family business. But it is Hans, proprietor of The Empty Hand, philosopher and benefactor of every artist, who holds the novel together. It is from him that Jack receives those words of wisdom and encouragement so necessary for every artist. At the end of the novel, when Jack believes that he has finally made sense of it all, everything unravels. It is then that he must travel back to Virginia to face his father, his former friends and his unresolved past. Buy From Amazon.com
A novel about love and loneliness. In the opening chapter the main character realizes that on that day he would kill a man. After carrying out this seemingly wanton act of violence, we learn of his life, his love for his dead wife and the dehumanizing process of losing one’s freedom. Released in 2003 from Gival Press. (English and Spanish) Buy from Amazon.com
Una novela sobre el amor y la soledad. En el capítulo inicial el protagonista se da cuenta que ese día matará a un hombre. Después de llevar a cabo este aparente acto de violencia sin sentido, ahondamos en su vida, en su amor por su esposa muerta y en el proceso deshumanizador que implica el perder la libertad. Buy From Amazon.com
THE NEOPHYTE – First in a trilogy of satirical novels, The Neophyte traces the early years of the main character–known only as the Neophyte–from the moment he floats in a locked trunk onto the confines of the Convent of the Righteous Path. Sheltered by the nuns and Father Guideon, we watch him struggle with his endocrine demons and the secret desires that accost him. (English) Buy From Amazon.com
Una novela neobarroca que sumerge al lector en un vórtice espejeante y surrealista, donde la búsqueda de una meta idealizada con frecuencia se convierte en un espejismo. Las cuatro protagonistas, Li-Tzu, Candy Slice, Dhalia Meanor y Adela Carroza ansiosamente aguardan la llegada de Mr. Ioso, el griego que completará sus sueños. Es durante esta ansiosa espera que cuentan la historia de sus vidas turbulentas, casi siempre distorsionadas por el deseo, la ambición, o la venganza. Buy From Amazon.com
SAGA – Finalist, Letras de Oro, 1993
Un aparato de aire acondicionado descompuesto; cerveza tibia; bomberos dementes y una misteriosa carta. Estos son los puntos de partida de SAGA, una novela que arrastra al lector en una búsqueda obsesiva de una mujer. Su siempre cambiante imagen sumerge al protagonista en un laberinto surrealista de deseo, y a la postre en una alucinante sucesión de imágenes donde la realidad se desvanece para convertirse en una distorsión de sí misma.
HUBRIS – Una novela corta que describe la inesperada llegada del norteamericano Jason West al pueblo costero de Costa Blanca. Vermos sus frustraciones y dificultades con el idioma, los habitants del pueblo y la sociedad en general. También presenciamos el cambio radical después de conocer a Nara Montero, una de las habitantes del pueblo.
XINEF EL ETERNO, Y OTROS CUENTOS — Colección de cuentos cuya temática se desarrolla en el pueblo costero de Costa Blanca y que nos permite conocer íntimamente a varios de sus habitantes.
CALEIDOSCOPIO – A collection of short stories in Spanish including the award-winning “Xinef, the Eternal.” (Read the English translation here)