by Reinaldo ArenasSurprisingly very good. It's main message is freedom. Freedom from repressive Cuban regime of Fulgencio Batista and the more detestable one of Fidel Castro. Freedom from the sexual discrimination against gays in the Communist Cuba and this explains the picture that Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990): that homosexuality in Cuba was rampant. The book is full of explicit sex scenes not only of homosexuality but bestiality. I suspect that that was intentional in a way that Marquis de Sade (1740-1819) portrayed sex, sadism, murder in his libertine novel The 120 Days of Sodom as a protest against the French government prior to the French Revolution (1789-1799). He wanted to picture Cuba in the mind of the reader as full of homosexuals because homosexual acts were prohibited in Cuba.
This biography or memoir is part of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die so I bought this from Amazon.com almost 3 years ago. I have been postponing my reading of this book because I thought it would be hard to read considering that Arenas was not an English-native speaker/writer. However, I was surprised to find that that book was well-written and his thoughts were organized and his plot was engaging. There are just too many not only of sex scenes but poverty and oppression. At first I thought that there was an irony: how come there is oppression if sodomy can be seen at every corner of Cuban streets and that most male characters, even his relatives, are gay? Then I remembered De Sade and his libertine novels.
His boyhood in the rural town in Oriente and his young man's dreams while living in Holquin (also in Cuba) were painful to read. Too much poverty: his irresponsible father left his mother and so the young gay Arenas continued to look for a man to love and so he had so many male lovers as he felt that he was doing the search for his mom.
Prior to this book, my knowledge of Cuban politics was limited to the news I used to see on television and that part of Che Guevara's life story in Jon Lee Anderson's Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life (4 stars). However, this kind of oppressive regime is not new for Filipinos like me who was already a grown up and politically aware during the time of Ferdinand Marcos (1917-1989) as our dictator president for 21 years.
Because of the irony I felt regarding the picture of homosexuality in Arenas' Cuba, I am not sure if I got the true picture of the country during Castro's regime. However, real or unreal, I did enjoy reading Arenas' prose that I was able to finish this book despite the six other books that competed with my attention for the last two weeks. I just could not put down this book in favor of let's say Beckett o Lourd de Veyra.
My first time to read a Cuban writer and he was gay and he was too good that I did not care even a bit.
I should read the 1001 books of the other Cuban novelists next: Alejo Carpentier and Pedro Juan Gutierrez. I did not know that there are these talented novelists who were born in Cuba. Awesome.
|Title||Before Night Falls|
|eBook format||Hardcover, (torrent)|
|File size||3.4 Mb|
|Book rating||4.16 (2648 votes)