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Waiting for Snow in Havana Confessions of a…
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Waiting for Snow in Havana Confessions of a Cuban Boy (original 2003; edition 2003)

by Eire Carlos

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8902614,953 (3.93)44
Member:passionforthepage
Title:Waiting for Snow in Havana Confessions of a Cuban Boy
Authors:Eire Carlos
Info:The Free Press (2003), Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Cuba, memoir, read

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Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy by Carlos Eire (2003)

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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
I sat down to read a few pages and was completely drawn into it. Although it is nominally a memoir, he moves around and remembers the way a child does. His childhood doesn't seem all that different to a child in the 50s in the US until it comes quite vividly different. I loved his writing style and the raw emotion he shared. Wonderfully written and extremely evocative.
  amyem58 | Sep 19, 2018 |
Considering that Carlos Eire was only eleven years old when he left Cuba, this book could have gone wrong in a lot of different ways. From a certain perspective, it's nothing but a series of childhood reminiscences, not too different from the kind that any upper-middle class Cuban boy of his generation might have. He talks about Cuba's beautiful skies, its seashore, its daily rituals, and a bit about its fragile social structure. But he mines this material for all that it's worth. And specifically because his life is now a closed book, every one of these forty brief chapters is impregnated with terrible longing and loss. It also helps that the author's got a sharp eye, a good sense of structure -- these little chapters frequently connect to others or circle back on themselves -- and a well-developed sense of irony. Considering that his father -- athough often kind, caring and boyishly playful -- actually seems to have believed himself to be a reincarnation of Louis XIV of France, he probably needed that last quality.

But "Waiting for Snow in Havana" also goes deeper, in some ways, than the average midlife memoir has to. Like Eire, I moved countries at a young age, although, unlike him, I've never been any sort of refugee. Even so, I found parts of this book excruciatingly difficult to read, and the author's description of the profound effect that this event had on not just his life but on his deepest self rings very true. Eire still considers him fundamentally, inalterably Cuban, and the reader can sense how the memories he includes here have sustained him throughout his life. At the same time, the rude shock of being separated from his family and culture and losing his social status also shaped his adulthood. In its last chapters, we can see that "Waiting for Snow in Havana" is much more than an exercise in upper-class nostalgia. Eire fully embraces the fact that he had to face great adversity and grow from it: he's turned his exile and the sometimes fragmentary memories he took from Cuba into a way to discover himself and who he is. This book won't suit anyone, but I suspect that lots of people who's had suffered a serious geographic dislocation at some point during their lives -- who've had to leave everything behind and move on -- will find it to be seriously inspiring testimony. ( )
  TheAmpersand | Sep 9, 2018 |
Confessions of a CUban Boy. Read. Not great. DIdn't seem to be informative
  jhawn | Jul 31, 2017 |
This is the only memoire I've read by someone who lived through Castro's take over of Cuba. The author was 9 or 10-years old when the Revolution took place. By the time he was 11, Fidel was firmly in power, and his parents sent him to the U.S. where he knew no one. It took his mother 3 and a half years to secure an exit permit and join him, and he never saw his father again. It is a compelling portrait of the rich childhood he had, the adaptations he had to make as an exile, and how his Cuban culture influenced his experience of America. He went on to become a professor of History and Religion and did not plan to write a memoire. When the news story of Elian Gonzalez emerged the story more or less demanded to be written. The writing is quirky and interesting. It's not one of my all time favorite books, but I would definitely recommend it. ( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
Eire was a young child of the ruling class when the Cuban Revolution came. Before, he had attended school with Battista's children and had lived in a mansion stuffed with the valuable artifacts and collections of his distant, eccentric father. As a boy, Carlos lived an idyllic life, surrounded by wealth and by many fond relatives, and he was allowed to run wild through his beloved Havana neighborhood.

The adult writing the book still resents Fidel for ruining the lives of the rich and for the many restrictions and the hard times that have impacted all Cubans since the revolution. But he's got nothing good to say about the benefits to the poor of universal health care and universal education on the island. He's also furious at the father who would not leave Cuba and who adopted a boy who abused Carlos and his brother.

Carlos seems to resent Fidel more for his long boring speeches than for the vast changes he made in Cuba, but perhaps this is what a young boy would notice the most. Of course there is some justification for Eire's loathing of Fidel - his entire world was devastated as he spent years of his American life in institutions and in foster care, until his mother finally arrived. In the US, Carlos and his family suffered through poverty, not unlike dark skinned Cubans up until Fidel came to power.

Although I am generally sympathetic to Fidel and Che, I can recognize good writing and how tough it was for this boy in those times. ( )
  froxgirl | Mar 8, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Eire's complex, introspective memoir begins the day his world changed: when Castro's troops sent President Batista into exile far from Cuba in 1959. The son of a judge who believed himself to be Louis XVI reincarnated, Carlos, along with his older brother, Tony, spent his days playing with fireworks and lizards. He attended an elite school, where Batista's children were his classmates. Carlos' biggest worries were the disapproving stares he received from a portrait of Maria Theresa of Austria and Jesus, who would sometimes appear in the window to him. All of that changed when Castro came to power; suddenly, attending a prestigious school or driving a classy car was dangerous. The Eire family remained in Cuba even as others left, until finally Eire's parents sent Carlos and Tony to Florida, where a very different life awaited them. Years passed before their mother joined them, but Carlos never saw his father again. In this open, honest, and at times angry memoir, Eire bares his soul completely and captivates the reader in the process.
added by kthomp25 | editBooklist Reviews (Oct 19, 2017)
 
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Epigraph
I spit on fools who fail to include breasts in their metaphysics,
Star-gazers who have not enumerated them among the moons of the earth

- - Charles Simic, "Breasts"
Dedication
For John-Carlos, Grace, and Bruno
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The world changed while I slept, and much to my surprise, no one had consulted me.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743246411, Paperback)

“Have mercy on me, Lord, I am Cuban.” In 1962, Carlos Eire was one of 14,000 children airlifted out of Cuba—exiled from his family, his country, and his own childhood by the revolution. The memories of Carlos's life in Havana, cut short when he was just eleven years old, are at the heart of this stunning, evocative, and unforgettable memoir.

Waiting for Snow in Havana is both an exorcism and an ode to a paradise lost. For the Cuba of Carlos’s youth—with its lizards and turquoise seas and sun-drenched siestas—becomes an island of condemnation once a cigar-smoking guerrilla named Fidel Castro ousts President Batista on January 1, 1959. Suddenly the music in the streets sounds like gunfire. Christmas is made illegal, political dissent leads to imprisonment, and too many of Carlos's friends are leaving Cuba for a place as far away and unthinkable as the United States. Carlos will end up there, too, and fulfill his mother's dreams by becoming a modern American man—even if his soul remains in the country he left behind.

Narrated with the urgency of a confession, Waiting for Snow in Havana is a eulogy for a native land and a loving testament to the collective spirit of Cubans everywhere.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:10 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"In 1962, at the age of eleven, Carlos Eire was one of 14,000 children airlifted out of Cuba, his parents left behind. His life until then is the subject of Waiting for Snow in Havana, a wry, heartbreaking, intoxicatingly beautiful memoir of growing up in a privileged Havana household - and of being exiled from his own childhood by the Cuban revolution." "That childhood, until his world changes, is as joyous and troubled as any other - but with exotic differences. Lizards roam the house and grounds. Fights aren't waged with snowballs but with breadfruit. The rich are outlandishly rich, like the eight-year-old son of a sugar baron who has a real miniature race car, or the neighbor with a private animal garden, complete with tiger. All this is bathed in sunlight and shades of turquoise and tangerine: the island of Cuba, says one of the stern monks at Carlos's school, might have been the original Paradise - and it is tempting to believe." "His father is a municipal judge and an obsessive collector of art and antiques, convinced that in a past life he was Louis XVI and that his wife was Marie Antoinette. His mother looks to the future; conceived on a transatlantic liner bound for Cuba from Spain, she wants her children to be modern, which means embracing all things American. His older brother electrocutes lizards. Surrounded by eccentrics, in a home crammed with portraits of Jesus that speak to him in dreams and nightmares, Carlos searches for secret proofs of the existence of God." "Then, in January 1959, President Batista is suddenly gone, a cigar-smoking guerrilla named Castro has taken his place, and Christmas is canceled. The echo of firing squads is everywhere. At the Aquarium of the Revolution, sharks multiply in a swimming pool. And one by one, the author's schoolmates begin to disappear - spirited away to the United States. Carlos will end up there himself, alone, never to see his father again."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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