A Radiant, Incandescent Zero: Cuba in Splinters

4 Sep
At Pan Am Games, 1992, Havana-[photo Robert Birnbaum

At Pan Am Games, 1992, Havana-[photo Robert Birnbaum

Imagine a twelve year old displaced person from Europe living in Chicago and being fascinated with the triumphant Cuban overthrow of United Fruit supported dictator Fulgencia Batista in 1959. Revolution was not quite a dirty word yet and the Bearded Ones remained heroes until their ambitions for national sovereignty and independence from their Uncle were made clear.

Ceiling detail,Havana 1992-[photo: Robert Birnbaum]

Ceiling detail,Havana 1992-[photo: Robert Birnbaum]

And still from that time on the young man grew ever fascinated with all things Cuban— the music, the literature, the cigars, the rum,the compelling story of Cuban World Chess Champion José Raúl Capablanca (which the great Cuban writer Gulliermo Cabrera Infante wanted to make into a movie), the baseball players (from Orestes Minoso, Pedro Ramos, Diegio Segui and Octavio Rojas to Zoilo Versalles,Tony Oliva, Livan and Orlando Hernandez to Bert Campaneris, Yoenis Céspedes and Yasiel Puig —to name a few), the boxers (the tragic Benny Kid Paret, Kid Chocolate (Eligio Sardinias Montalvo), the amazing Kid Gavilan:”The Cuban Hawk”, heavyweight Teófilo Stevenson) and the nonpareil middle distance Olympic champion, Alberto Juantorena.And later, the spell binding resonant Havana sun illuminating the Malecon. By 1997, he had traveled to Cuba twice and when his son was born in 1998 he was named Cuba. That young man grew up to be me.

Cuba in Splinters: Eleven Stories from the New Cuba Selected and edited by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Cuba in Splinters: Eleven Stories from the New Cuba
Selected and edited by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Cuba continues to hold an unsettled niche in the north American imagination. Say the word in a room full of people and ears perk up and genuinely interested questions rise to the surface. To be sure, the long and gratuitous US embargo has contributed to the hazy sense of understanding Cuba—of the Caribbean’s largest island nation, which is mostly seen as a sanctuary/preserve for 50’s vintage American motor vehicles.Needless to say many things have changed in the last decade and in those changes echo through Cuba in Splinters: Eleven Stories*from the New Cuba selected and edited by Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo,translated by Hillary Gulley(OR Books)

Pardo Lazo characterizes the sum total of the eleven stories:

It is possible that this anthology is the portrait of a family that never was. The communicating vessels between these eleven stories are not bridges but circuits: affinities, violence, tensions between text and anti-text which coinciding in the same book, produce a collision that consumes its own meaning, generating light. A radiant, incandescent zero of patria-plasma

He concludes

…no one knows what past awaits us. Antepenultimate visions of the holocastro.This anthology couldn’t be anything but the portrait of this family that would have been a would-have-been. The future is today. Let it read.

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo was born in Havana, Cuba. He graduated from the University of Havana with a degree in biochemistry.He produces the blog, Boring Home Utopics, which describes itself as “the Collective Memories from a Unique Man in the Brave New Zoociety” and the author of Boring Home, awarded the Czech literary award .the Franz Kafka prize)< Lazo also founded the literary e-zine Voces in 2010 and has been, along with well known dissident blogger, Yoani Sanchez harassed and arrested by Cuban state security officials.

Here talks about the new Cuba:

* included in this collection:Jorge Alberto Aguiar Díaz, Jorge Enrique Lage, Jhortensia Espineta, Ahmel Echevarría Peré, Lien Carrazana Lau, Polina Martínez Shviétsova, Michel Encinosa Fú, Lia Villares,Erick J. Mota, Raúl Flores, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Prado, Havana Cuba [photo: Robert Birnbaum]

Prado, Havana Cuba [photo: Robert Birnbaum]

Currently reading A Broken Hallelujah: Rock and Roll, Redemption, and the Life of Leonard Cohen by Liel Leibovitz

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3 Responses to “A Radiant, Incandescent Zero: Cuba in Splinters”

  1. boringhomeutopics September 5, 2014 at 2:32 am #

    Gracia! Who are you?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. La mejor carta de Cuba libro | ourmaninboston - December 20, 2014

    […] have written previously about this anthology Pardo Lazo characterizes the sum total of the eleven […]

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