TROPICAL ANIMAL by Pedro Juan Gutierrez


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Cuban poet and novelist Gutiérrez (Dirty Havana Trilogy, 2002, not reviewed) takes another tropical-flavored stab at the old-fashioned cockmansroman.

In his youth, Pedro Juan was christened the man with the “golden” member, and, at 50, he’s still got it. Within the first few pages, he has phone sex with Agneta, a Swedish woman he seduced with naked photographs; pontificates on the political good of sleeping with black women; absentmindedly fondles the “mental defective” downstairs neighbor in the lift (“she says very little, but she groans well”) and dreams about stimulating a male monkey. Enter Gloria, a 29-year-old Havana mulatta, who alternately begs papi to whip and impregnate her, and buys him rum and beach trips with the proceeds from paying customers. Pedro Juan is certain that she’s the subject of his second novel and, perhaps, his future wife. But when the Swede offers him a flimsy academic fellowship, as well as her substantial female companionship, Gloria, a professional colleague, understands. Thus Pedro Juan undertakes a merry international caper at waist-level, while spilling hard-won truths, such as race-based differences in crotch odors; the erotic necessity of sweat and armpit hair; why women prefer men who beat them and why intellectuals are bad in bed. But disappointment lies ahead: Despite having large Scandinavian breasts, the Swede is reluctant to participate in many bedroom activities, eats regular meals (mostly bread and salmon), drinks tea during the rum hour, and even requests warm milk after a long night of clubbing. The Swede, for her part, becomes a little queasy when Pedro Juan describes coupling with barnyard animals and lesbians (who love to be sodomized). He marvels that she just doesn’t get it, chucks that damn chilly Swede, and warms up next to Gloria when she is, you know, free. Gloria sweetly rolls a roomful of sailors and comes back with enough pocket money for the month. Could it be time to settle down? Could be, love, could be.

An exuberant attempt to go where many, many men have gone before.

Pub Date: Jan. 4th, 2005
ISBN: 0-7867-1499-9
Page count: 320pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2004