Rachel's Song

Miguel Barnet, Author, W. Nick Hill, Translator
Miguel Barnet, Author, W. Nick Hill, Translator Curbstone Press $9.95 (125p) ISBN 978-0-915306-87-9
Reviewed on: 07/03/1995
Release date: 07/01/1995
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Barnet's ( Biography of a Slave ) opening epigraph states that Rachel, a former dancer in prerevolutionary Cuba, is a ``true gauge of the country's social and political activities.'' Rachel recounts her glory days at the Alhambra Theatre, where she rose above poverty by manipulating adoring men. She glamorizes her past, saying ``I was offered castles and kings, but I declined.'' Periodic interjections by those who knew her--a review from a theater critic, an ex-husband's comments--lend perspective to Rachel's narrow view of events, frequently undercutting her. One observer notes, ``Does she lie,stet comma she does. But they're white lies.'' In Rachel's version of the ``Negroes' little war, the racist rumpus of 1912,'' American cowboys rounded up rebellious blacks with lassoes. A self-described ``revolutionary'' calls the dancer ``the best example of the prostitution, the vice and lie wrapped in a red ribbon that reigned in this country.'' But Rachel is more than an allegorical stick figure. Her poor background, tragic love affair and even ignorance--perhaps naivete--create a sympathetic character more pitiable than despicable. This is a personal, poetic history of a Cuba that no longer exists. (Sept.)
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