"Sure to transport readers to another place and time."– Kirkus Reviews
A collection of short stories centering on a young boy coming of age in a small fishing community during the mid-1950s in pre-Castro Cuba.
In 10 linked stories, Rodriguez charmingly conjures life in Santa Rita, a coastal town in Cuba, before Castro’s revolution. The townspeople are seen mainly through the eyes of Carlos, a young boy growing up surrounded by his colorful neighbors. Chief among them is Pedro, a homeless man who makes the wharf his home and who relates to a wide-eyed Carlos the rich history of their town. As such, the collection encompasses Santa Rita’s past and present. Pedro’s own story is a fascinating one as he narrates his youthful love for a young woman far above his station. A man of many accomplishments, he also tells Carlos about his adventure transporting aid via train to a nearby village hit hard by a hurricane and of his meeting with Ernest Hemingway during World War II, when the famous American writer and his “hooligan navy” kept watch for German U-boats hoping to sink freighters off the coast of Cuba. Carlos is featured in several stories as well, including two about his relationship with Veronica, a beautiful Jewish girl. The collection ends with Carlos’ leaving for a high school education in Havana and his emotional farewell with Pedro, a man straight out of Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and who provides the book’s true beating heart. Pedro’s stories read like tall tales, whereas Carlos’ have their roots in timeless stories about youth, like Booth Tarkington’s Penrod and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Basil and Josephine Stories. Rodriguez wonderfully evokes the ’50s with references to The Old Man and The Sea, This is Cinerama and Argentinean Grand Prix champion Juan Manuel Fangio. His only flaw is in too often adding unnecessary buttons in the forms of lessons or morals at the ends of his stories.
Sure to transport readers to another place and time.