Back to Cuba: The Return of the Butterflies

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In Back to Cuba, the author employs the pseudonym Michael E. Beltran in a third-person memoir. Over the narrative, Beltran’s life actually seems quite interesting, he leads a happy childhood in a peaceful Cuba, he’s a momentary student activist interacting with Fidel Castro at the height of the student political strength, he works for Shell Oil before the ousting of Batista, he flees to the U.S. with his wife and two daughters (he vaguely gets divorced and his children stop talking to him), he becomes an artist, he has a spiritual awakening in a dream, he returns to a significantly changed Cuba late in life, and he finishes with a chapter discussing the impotent facade of our global leaders sympathizing with the Cuban diaspora while reinforcing the structural issues that make it continue.

There’s no doubt that Beltran, as a person, has lived through some intense situations that the world might find insightful, but the overall structure of the narrative obscures the story in a distracting way. Though the narrative is primarily chronological, there are many places where chapters, or even paragraphs, leap the span of a lifetime to comment on details that lack significance. The text—with frequent emboldened words, paragraphs, or entire chapters—obscures the reading experience, and this technique doesn’t seem to have any underlying logic, to the point that it disrupts what John Gardner called “the vivid and continuous dream.”

With some diligent editing and revision, this story might appeal to a wide audience of people concerned about Cuban-American relations. Ultimately, it’s an interesting story, painfully written.

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Star Count 2/5
Format Trade
Page Count 374 pages
Publisher Xlibris
Publish Date 01-Apr-2010
ISBN 9781401091675 Buy this Book
Issue August 2010
Category Biographies & Memoirs


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