April 11, 2012
We had to move the book up from the initial lineup — several people wanted to write about it in their final papers. How did they hear about it?
But I should have guessed something like this might come up. After all, were else is the ceiba tree a daily sight; the Nikolai Lenin Elementary School mentioned with no special emphasis; and balconies floating like chariots in the air? Where else would a man – rather than the two women brought before the People’s Court — end up getting the penalty, a year at the state nursery changing diapers and warming milk?
Then there’s “the happenstance of El Líder, a star pitcher in his youth, narrowly missing a baseball career in America.” Later in life, this happenstance would become one of the major divisive wedges between a mother and her daughters. One of those daughters, middle-aged now and with problems of her own, says “Communist” the way some people say “cancer.” But Celia del Pino keeps a framed picture of El Líder by her bed, where her husband’s picture used to be. She puts on lipstick and high heels and her best house dress as she sits on her porch, armed with binoculars, to patrol the coast of Cuba, making sure there’re no yanquis coming ashore, no gusano traitors, no second Bay of Pigs.
I don’t actually think I’ll see any of these in my students’s papers. Some books are channeled through me; this one isn’t.