IN CUBA I WAS A GERMAN SHEPHERD by Ana Menéndez

IN CUBA I WAS A GERMAN SHEPHERD

KIRKUS REVIEW

A debut collection from Miami Herald reporter Menéndez: interconnected stories about Cuban exiles’ feelings of displacement in Miami. In “In Cuba,” four elderly men, two Cuban and two Dominican, meet in a Miami park to play dominoes. As the Cuban Máximo tells his jokes and chafes at the stares of tourists, the narrative of the long Cuban odyssey unfolds, resulting in an exile both angry and poignant with longing. Menéndez captures the weight of these forced exiles’ frustrations and misbegotten dreams—the dreams of middle-class and professional Cubans whose lives are haunted by the fear that they may lose, indeed may have lost, the memory of what life was like back in Cuba. By the time she reaches the last story, Menéndez is conjuring up Eugene O’Neill–like drama. “Her Mother’s House” concerns a journalist who returns to Cuba and tracks down the house that’s the source of her mother’s nostalgic suffering. The journey finally forces the daughter to let go of those dreams and the losses they have wrought to try once again to clear the slate. The opening (title) story, which was included in the Best New American Voices 2000, and the closing tale frame a certain number of pieces that are considerably weaker. Menéndez’s stronger moments, nevertheless, allow her to make the Cuban exile ordeal come alive and pluck the chord of universal feeling. A pointed rendering of the human need to idealize what was in order to live with what is.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8021-1688-4
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Grove
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2001




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