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Loving Che Hardcover – January, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0871139085 ISBN-10: 0871139081

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (January 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871139081
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871139085
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,690,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this evocative first novel by short story writer Menendez (In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd), a young, unnamed Miami woman is granted an intimate look into her provenance with the arrival of a package of old photographs and letters. An infant during the revolution, she was sent from Cuba to be raised by her kind but unforthcoming grandfather; her mother, Teresa, seems to have vanished. But this package of writings "smell[ing] of dark drawers and musty rooms" reveals Teresa de la Landre's life, from her carefree girlhood to her marriage, artistic career and impassioned affair with revolutionary hero Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Teresa's poetic memories, which make up the bulk of the book, are rich in sensual detail ("Ernesto... his touch like wading into a small pool only to find it deep and cool and sweet beneath the reflection") and full of the terror and exhilaration of revolution ("After the triumph... it was the strange and dreadful excitement of a world turning, of everything staid and ordinary being swept away"). Despite the tension in the narrator's search to learn her mother's fate and the true identity of her father-was it Che, or Teresa's professor husband, Calixto?-the present-day story, which bookends the letters, is less developed. The dreamy portrait of tropical Havana in gorgeous decay ("Where the cement had cracked, small purple flowers blossomed, as if every house held a garden prisoner within its walls") lingers, while the narrator's hopeful but pragmatic thoughts during her quest can fall somewhat flat. Still, the glimpses of vibrant 1950s Cuba and Teresa and Che's perfectly rendered relationship make this a moving novel from a writer to watch.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Critics agree that Loving Che does not live up to the wide acclaim of Menéndez's short story collection, In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd. In Loving Che the former journalist attempts a more ornate and less journalistic style, which does not quite succeed. Reviewers praise her poetic language and sensual descriptions of Cuba but note that her emphasis on Che's romantic life comes at the expense of solid historical and political context. Important events serve only to illustrate the phases of Che and Teresa's affair, which, in the end, resembles a bodice-ripper romance. If you're not a fan of historical romance novels, the consensus is: wait for Menéndez's next effort.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


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Customer Reviews

Loving Che burns with sensuous and erotic metaphors of love.
Evelyn A. Getchell
With beautiful imagery and intriguing language, Menendez has created a mysterious and intriguing story about love, family, and revolutionary Cuba.
Jessica Ferguson
It's a lot like spending an afternoon talking about Cuba with an exile: captivating at times but more often just frustrating, opaque and sad.
Dangle's girl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Ferguson VINE VOICE on February 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
With beautiful imagery and intriguing language, Menendez has created a mysterious and intriguing story about love, family, and revolutionary Cuba.
This enchanting diptych of a novel begins in standard form with the narrator questioning her childhood in Miami and expressing her frustration at the lack of information she is able to get from her grandfather about her past and her parents. When a mysterious package arrives filled with letters and photos, the novel takes a stylistic turn and we are thrust into a wholly different life; the life of an artist in Cuba in the 1950s. In brief and beautifully written vignettes, these "letters" seemingly explain the narrator's mother's life and her clandestine affair with Che Guevara.
A return to the narrator's voice at the end of the novel details a renewed search for her mother using the information that has been revealed in the letters. While at the heart of the matter the question seems to be whether or not the narrator is the daughter of Che Guevara, the narrator focuses on her search for her mother and Guevara seems to be an afterthought.
While the initial change in narrative is slightly jarring, it is reflective of how we remember and of how and what one chooses to tell about ones life. The return of the narrator's voice is a smooth transition and further illuminates the letters and the difficulty in both sharing secrets and yet keeping them. As Teresa writes to her daughter "...life is not a tidy narrative.... We learn this late. These scraps of memory that become untethered from the rest, flapping disconsolately in the wind, these memories are the most important of all. Memories like these remind us that life is also loose ends, small events that have no bearing on the story we come to write of ourselves."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert Blake on July 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
"Loving Che" is full of so many wonderful passages that vibrate with real literary romance and deep feeling that it's a downer that the novel doesn't go all the way, or provide a more fulfilling ending, but there's enough good material in Ana Menendez's book to make it worth reading. Like many classic works, this one involves an investigation into the past during which incredible discoveries are made and extreme possibilities hinted at. A Cuban exile who never really knew her mother is sent a strange package containing a sort of diary detailing a love affair during the Cuban revolution with the legendary rebel Ernesto "Che" Guevara, who was assassinated in Bolivia and lived on in history as one of the most potent, enduring icons of rebellion and social revolution. The book begins with nice moments of recollection as the main character recalls growing up with her exiled grandfather in Miami, never being told anything about her mother, but it's when the book moves into the diary passages that things get interesting. With romantic passages that inspire and use language as skillfull as Salman Rushdie's, many of these parts come to life as the woman named Teresa describes her life as an artist and how she met Che Guevara and was captivated by his mind and spirit. Teresa is married, so is Che, and so of course the affair is tightly kept secret. It is here where the novel delivers and yet comes short, the implications are already enough to keep us reading, but you're surprised at just how LITTLE of Che's life is incorporated.Read more ›
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 14, 2004
Format: Audio Cassette
Champion voice performers Adriana Sananes and Eileen Stevens breathe life into this story of a love affair between a young artist, Theresa, and rebel Ernesto "Che" Guevara. At times the narrative is softly emotional at other times fraught with danger; it is also an incomparable painting of revolutionary Cuba.
Although she has been searching for a number of years a young Miami woman has not unearthed a clue about her birth mother whom she has never seen nor heard about. One day an unexpected package arrives containing pages of writing and photographs. Slowly these items are pieced together to reveal the life of her mother and the youthful affair she had with "Che" Guevara.
Related in two distinct voices "Loving Che" is poetic, passionate, and poignant - an altogether irresistible listening experience.
- Gail Cooke
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dangle's girl on July 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
Cuba, as anyone who has lived in Miami can tell you, exists for thousands of exiles chiefly as a fantasy landscape colored by memory, regret and loss. Just as well, because the reality of the place in the 21st century is pretty grim, as I experienced it. But the maddening habit of exiles to romanticize the place is well displayed in "Loving Che," which hardly exists outside of lyrical scraps of random thought, sensation and writerly flights of fancy. Ana Menendez puts a lot of effort into conjuring up her dreamy reveries, but spends little time making her tale remotely believable or affecting. And the frequent pauses for "deep thoughts" get old very quickly. It's a lot like spending an afternoon talking about Cuba with an exile: captivating at times but more often just frustrating, opaque and sad.
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