Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Camagüey Calling

"I fail to see beauty in anything made by man."

"What happened in Cuba in the 1950’s was so large and complicated that one single historian cannot grasp all the nuances. Many have told the story from many different angles and with various degrees of impartiality and scholarship. One point of view that has mostly been missing is that of ordinary Cuban citizens, those of us who were neither politicians nor revolutionaries. There were many of us who were not trying to change the country; who were just trying to take care of our lives. I will try to compress those lives into a very small color tile to be added to the large mosaic of the Cuban tragedy."

"It is hard to think of a more fitting epitaph for the Cuban revolution than el desengaño, the disenchantment. Yet, almost perversely, Angela Tischler has taken the word as the title for her pre-revolutionary Cuban memoir. This is just one of the lesser ways in which "Los Desengaños" (in fact the name of disused sugar mill) sets itself apart from other more honeyed tellings of pre-revolutionary Cuban life. It offers a rare glimpse of pre-Revolutionary times in "provincial" Cuba: in this case, the almost waspish province of Camaguey - no Havana-centrism here! It is also unflinchingly honest - sometimes painfully so. The result is a bittersweet portrait of the "Cuba de ayer"; the joys and beauties and simple pleasures that Tischler found in Camaguey's countryside and people (especially her family), but also the province's sadnesses and prejudices - traits that are treated in the same way one might describe the foibles of a cherished family member: with a love that forgives but does not exonerate."
John Paul Rathbone
Rathbone is the Financial Times Latin American Editor. He is the author of "The Sugar King of Havana: the rise and fall off Julio Lobo, Cuba's last tycoon."

Angela Sanchez Tischler celebrated her eightieth birthday by self publishing her memoirs under the imprint A Swan Song Book referring to the myth that mute swans sing once before dying. The title of the book, Los Desengaños, was the name of the cattle ranch in Cuba where she grew up. Angela retired from the Postal Service in 2000 after serving for thirty years. She was then ready for a new career. She explains, During my many years listening to customers from behind a counter I learned that many people have interesting things to tell, both experiences and ideas. I went to the editor of the Courier Journal, the Crescent City, Florida, weekly newspaper, and offered to write a column. I noticed that in this small town, the locals only get in the paper when something happens to them. This column would give them an opportunity to air their opinions and make themselves known. We agreed to call it It s your turn. For five years I interviewed, photographed and wrote about almost anybody willing to talk to me, not just the well known. I did very little original writing, I mostly quoted my subjects. Eventually the idea came to me that it was only fair that if others trusted me with their personal stories, I should trust them with mine. This book is the result.

Lo ha logrado de una manera convincente porque la muerte de un lugar con la gente que lo habitó verdaderamente ocurre cuando se deja de mencionar y, gracias a esta obra, Los Desengaños y el Camagüey de nuestra generación vivirán para siempre. 
El Camagueyano Libre.- Diciembre 2011
Eduardo Pelaez Leyva, Editor


1 comment:

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