Raining Backwards

Roberto Fernandez, Author Arte Publico Press $9.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-934770-79-8
The opening chapters of this work, the Cuban-born author's first in English, read as unrelated vignettes rather than parts of a novel. But gradually, as the various characters, all denizens of Miami's Little Havana, reappear and interweave their stories, the book's form and internal logic become evident. What there is of a plot is surreal and mercurial amidst the dense interplay of dialogue, remembrances of a mythically bountiful Cuba, fictitious emigre newspaper columns and frequently hilarious television broadcasts (one reports on a new Florida law, enacted to decrease traffic jams, that relegates shoppers to certain malls according to birth date). In this family saga, Keith Rodriguez is arrested for smuggling cocaine from Colombia, then escapes from jail and forms a revolutionary group in the Everglades. His lovesick sister Connie, a cheerleader, hangs herself and is canonized by their brother Quinn, who becomes the pope of a religion that sweeps the world and causes the U.S.S.R. to invade Alaska. Fernandez's spirited, appealing book, with its hyperbolic visions, is like an Under Milkwood written by a Cuban William Burroughs. (April)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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