Monday, August 01, 2011

Rabbit, rabbit, good luck in August!!

Good luck in August, everyone! Did anyone go to an amusement park this year? We probably won't. It's been a long time, and lately, it's been very hot in these parts, so I suppose that those who are not at the water rides don't have to bake in the sun too long to get on the dry rides.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~and now, for a short book review:

"Beautiful Maria of My Soul. A song about love so far away it hurts; a song about lost pleasures, a song about youth, a song about love so elusive a man can never know where he stands; a song about wanting a woman so much death does not frighten you, a song about wanting that woman even when she has abandoned you."

Oscar Hijuelos's novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love is a beautifully written historical novel about Cesar Castillo, who comes to New York City from Cuba in 1949 with his younger brother Nestor with the dream of becoming successful musicians. For a short period of their tumultuous lives, this dream does come true.

At the end of his life in 1980, Cesar has deliberately ensconced himself in The Hotel Splendour, to die alone. This is his story, told in flashback. As the reader will surmise immediately, Cesar Castillo never became rich, never lived an easy life, and the excessiveness of his lifestyle--the constant drinking, the lack of sleep, the womanizing--are there to drown out Cesar's deep-seated emotional problems and unhappiness. Cesar is the brother who is always able to hide this melancholy from himself and others, yet when the withdrawn, taciturn Nestor dies, his defenses crumble. It is as if Nestor bequeathed his depression to his older brother, to carry along with the self-destructive habits that were already there.

Cesar Castillo is a richly drawn character who has his good-natured, generous A side, along with his dastardly B side. He is crippled by the need to be macho, but there is a love-starved, abused boy that is still crying out for help. And so, at the end of his life, there are people he has hurt as well as people who will remember him fondly and gratefully forever.

Oscar Hijuelos made every character's pain throb on the page. He made Cesar's alcoholism painful and his sexual urges unbearable, yet this is not a hard book to read.

The author also brings a time period and culture back to life in this story. I enjoyed the book very much!

Mambo Kings Sing Songs of Love won the Pulitizer Prize in 1990.

It's hard to believe we've arrived in August, the Sunday of summer. All summer means to me is hotter temperatures, an occasional trip to the pool, and getting closer to our September vacation. Oh, and adding another birthday to my growing collection, that pile we are all building, like it or not! I don't have much to write about at the moment, but--I'm still here:)

What's up with you?


Doug said...

Rabbit rabbit! My uncling responsibilities brought me to Disneyland several times this year. Yesterday they brought me to The Smurfs movie. I barfed blue.

actonbell said...

I didn't know about The Smurfs movie, and I'm surprised they haven't gone extinct. Especially with you eating them like that...

TLP said...

LOL Acton!

Lovely post. As always.

Rabbit rabbit.

tsduff said...

Tibbar tibbar Actonbell! I absolute love your saying of "August is the Sunday of summer". It is true!

Bone said...

Haven't been to an amusement park this year. But I did make it to a water park last year. And a county fair. Does that count?

Summer gets away so fast.

Doug said...

Come on, you know they look like candy. And speaking of, happy birthday!

actonbell said...

LOL, Doug:) And thanks.