Friday, January 25, 2019

"Telex from Cuba", Rachel Kushner

This book was published in 2008, but it is not dated.  The novel captures a time that is still a part of the history known here.  It is set in late 1950's Cuba, and focuses on the American families, mostly serial expats, who run the massive United Fruit Company sugar plantations, and their interactions with the locals.  The rise of the Castro brothers, from the prosperous upper middle class of the countryside, and the reign of the lower class leader Batista, are the backdrop.  Rural beatniks topple slavers.  It is based on history and well researched, and leads to a reality that is stranger than fiction story.  Fiction based on truth.

The book is like a collage.  Differing types of abstraction develop and ultimately turn into a coherent story.  Or to be more pedantic, at times it's like trying to look at a Bruegel painting without focusing on distinct parts.  Anxious reading does not work.  Read on.  It all comes together.

Rachel Kushner's writing is spectacular.  For no good reason her work had not been on my radar, which was obviously defective, troubling thought these days.  Good books are often read here with pen in hand or nearby, to mark a special passage and then dogear the page.  For picking the book back up here later, they may at some point be reminders.  For purposes of this comment, they are too numerous to be useful.  Some could lead back to me, not the best idea.

This is my type of book, real characters, real history, and believable fiction.  Just checking Wikipedia, she was born in 1968 so none of this is personal storytelling, it's cut from whole cloth.  The second paragraph's lead sentence on Wiki is "one of her influencers is American novelist Don Delillo."  That makes sense.


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