Los Gusanos

John Sayles, Author HarperCollins Publishers $22.95 (473p) ISBN 978-0-06-016653-3
``Los Gusanos,'' or ``worms,'' is Fidel Castro's epithet for the Cubans who fled the island after the revolution. The story of these exiles--full of violent passions, tender memories and old vendettas--is what filmmaker/author Sayles ( Union City Dues ) endeavors to capture in this ambitious work. Given the tangled history of Cuba--``a succession of men exploiting men,'' as the narrator puts it--Sayles gamely constructs a plot to carry the reader through decades of turmoil and recrimination. Marta, a young Cuban nurse in a Miami old folks home, enlists a ragtag team of Cuban men--former terrorists, a priest, members of her family, an orderly with a penchant for guns--to prepare an assault on Cuba. Sayles's attention, however, drifts to whichever figure walks into the story, and he runs up and down the timeline from the '50s to the present with little design, the result being that no character sufficiently emerges from the roiling historical backdrop to engage the reader. Still, the book succeeds brilliantly as a series of closely observed vignettes--from comic flirtation rituals on a Miami beach to a harrowing recollection of the Bay of Pigs invasion to the lost love of a waitress in Havana; and the prose, spiced with Spanish and swaying to a Latin rhythm, works its gentle seductions. Overall, Sayles's impressive command of psychological detail and the narrative's generous spirit more than compensate for the book's structural flaws. Major ad/promo; first serial to Esquire; author tour. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
Hardcover - 978-0-517-09228-6
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-0-06-092159-0
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-1-56025-646-5
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