Monday, February 12, 2007

A Very Compelling, but Very Depressing Book

The Cigar Roller (192 pgs) by Pablo Medina is the story of a Amadeo Terra, a Cuban-born Cigar Roller that has been paralyzed by a stroke. Amadeo is housed in a nursing home in Florida, isolated from the world. His children pay the bills, but never visit. He is unable to move or talk. And to the outside world, he is no more responsive than a vegetable. One day, as the nurse was feeding Amadeo his lunch of baby food, his memories are sparked by the taste of mango. He is immediately transported back to his childhood in Cuba.

This novel is very well-written, although it does follow the stream of consciousness writing that I'm not particularly fond of reading. Amadeo is a man that has ill-spent almost his entire life and has many deep regrets. He alternates from the present time through many episodes of his past life, some good and some bad. You see snippets of his marriage to Julia, a Cuban woman that immigrated to Florida with him and their three sons. You see bits of life as a Master Cigar Roller. Images of his many mistresses and infidelities are also abound. And the death of his young son that haunts him. But you are also drawn into his life as an invalid, trying desperately to make someone, anyone, realize he CAN understand. You are also drawn into the incredibly inadequate treatment the infirmed receive in this nursing home.

Even though the book was well-written, it probably won't be making my Top lists anytime soon! It was a short book for me, but I found it incredibly difficult to read. It's hard to have a lot of empathy for a man that really, truly was so detestable. And I'm not a fan of stream of consciousness writing. I find it very hard to enjoy. I was hoping for more about Amadeo's life as a Cigar Roller and culture of Cuba, and less of the clinical side of the stroke. 3.5/5


moonbeam said...

I have one comment--not on the book--but regarding Cuba. I saw a documentary recently about the changes taking place there and was delighted to hear that John Lennon was one of Fidel's obsessions, kinda like Sadaam Hussein and Elvis. And so, there in Havana, is a life sive bronze sculpture of John Lennon sitting on a full size park bench. People can sit next to it (him) and get their photos taken. Cool.

Chris said...

I don't think I'll put that on my TBR list. Thanks, Stephanie

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Amadeo Terra was definitely NOT a likeable character. I'm glad I read the book, but I was hoping for more about Cuba and about the cigar rolling business.

You have a great blog! I didn't realize you had one, so thanks for leaving me the message on mine.

cess said...

I'm interested in Cuba since I have been traveling there so this book got my focus. I still want to read it but I won't have my expectations sky high now. Thanks for sharing your review!

Sayyed Nasir ,from Cigar Roller said...

Books are the best guide for human life.Is there any option to book ?