Cubop City Blues

Pablo Medina, Author
Pablo Medina. Grove, $25 (270p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1984-1
Reviewed on: 03/05/2012
Release date: 06/01/2012
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-0-8021-9455-8
Paperback - 260 pages - 978-0-8021-4608-3
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In this haunting love letter to New York, poet and novelist Medina (The Cigar Roller) crafts a hybrid novel/story collection that vivifies the cityscape over many decades with tales of love, death, and exile. The central figure is a nearly blind young Cuban man living in Manhattan with his dying parents, Cuban exiles. To comfort them, he becomes “The Storyteller” of prose poems about where they left and where they live: there’s the recurring character of Angel, a writer and foot fetishist, who seeks the man who stabbed him. There’s Cornelia, the Storyteller’s Hungarian housekeeper, who escaped the violence of postwar Europe. And other singular tales: a professor falls in love with a younger male colleague; a Cuban blackjack dealer is lured to Las Vegas; a musician takes part in the dawn of Afro-Cuban jazz. The stories are rich and accomplished, but the farther they veer from Cubop City (New York, to the narrator) the less compelling they become. Medina is best when dealing with erotic loss, and has a keen eye for the ebb and flow of desire. While the Storyteller device feels like an excuse to digress, there is beauty, suffused with a muted melancholy, in Medina’s attempt to capture the rhythms of life. Agent: Elaine Thoma, Markson Thoma Literary Agency. (June)
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