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The Insatiable Spider Man

Pedro Juan Gutierrez, Author, John King, Translator
Pedro Juan Gutierrez, Author, John King, Translator , trans. from the Spanish by John King. Carroll & Graf $13.95 (163p) ISBN 978-0-7867-1665-4
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Cuban writer Gutiérrez has mined and loosely fictionalized his own life in creating Pedro Juan, a Havana writer, in two previous collections of linked vignettes, Dirty Havana Trilogy (2000) and Tropical Animal (2003). This book offers more of the same, and the formula, like the line outside of a poorly stocked Havana fish store, is wearying. Pedro Juan's adventures with various women feature a kind of modulated macho: he's not particularly interested in any of them other than physically, especially wife Julia, but he's very good at articulating his boredom and their various flaws. His travels around Cuba and his liaisons, however, continue to reveal slices of Cuban life. This time we meet a washed-up boxer touchingly devoted to his philandering wife; Pedro Juan's superstitious mother, who lives across town; an old woman who sells useless books out of her home; various lovers from various times in his life, who call or whom he runs into on the street; and many others. Heat, listlessness and varying degrees of lust are constants, and Pedro Juan's vague frustrations, this time out, become the reader's. (Feb. 27)

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