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The Second Death of Unica Aveyano (Vintage Contemporaries Original) [Kindle Edition]

Ernesto Mestre-Reed
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $13.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

From the author of The Lazarus Rumba (“His symphonic imagination proves mesmerizing.” —New York Times Book Review; “Wonderful.” —Los Angeles Times), an inventive, poignant new novel.

One night in April, Única Aveyano sneaks out of her Miami nursing home and wanders toward the sea. Whether she intends to end her life or simply look at the ocean depends on whom you believe. She leaves behind her husband, a devoted nurse, the solicitude of her family—and the images of a little boy named Elián Gonzalez that are all over the news.

Her rash decision sets in motion a gorgeously told tale that is at once comedy and elegy. Every lived moment evokes for Única a story from her past, and we live that past with her: from the ghosts of her mother and stepfather in 1930s Guantánamo, and her beloved but wayward son, who refused to leave Cuba with the rest of the family, to her exile in Miami and New York City.

A chronicle of the familiar and the strange, of madness and clarity, of the ambivalence of home and family, The Second Death of Única Aveyano reveals unforgettably an indomitable woman whose entire life now seems a dress rehearsal for the heady days before her death.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A Miami nursing home is no place for Unica Aveyano, as she vociferously reminds her daughter-in-law at every opportunity. Although she is ill with terminal cancer and terribly frail, she cannot bear the thought of spending one more night wandering the halls or sitting by the cracked windows. Miraculously, she finds her way out the door, across a four-lane highway, and into the ocean. When she is rescued by her male nurse, she gravely tells him that she was led there by a pack of wild angels. Her past is suddenly more alive to her than the present, and she spends hours immersed in memories of her Cuban childhood, her marriage, and her son, a bisexual artist who refused to emigrate with them. She has no time for her mournful husband, who is sick at the thought of being left behind. Mestre-Reed (The Lazarus Rumba, 1999) is a lyric novelist of uncommon power, creating a memorable portrait of a woman wracked by longing and memory yet fearlessly embracing her impending death. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


“A powerful, funny, resonant tale of one extraordinary woman and the many lives she graces and ruins. Única Aveyano is as poignant and compelling and concentratedly Cubana as they come. She is mother to us all.”—Cristina Garcia, author of Monkey Hunting and Dreaming in Cuban

“Poetic and daring. . . . Mestre-Reed is a masterful observer.” —Francisco Goldman, author of The Ordinary Seaman

“Beneath the surface of Mestre-Reed’s prose there is a turbulent exchange between flesh and spirit, between free will and the caprice of fate. The Second Death of Única Aveyano unfolds like a dream, charged by lust and by sorrow, and fraught with the perils of an ulterior logic.” —David Hollander, author of L.I.E.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 360 KB
  • Print Length: 274 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1400033160
  • Publisher: Vintage (December 18, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XUBG5K
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,165,408 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! March 9, 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The novel THE SECOND DEATH OF UNICA AVEYANO, written by the highly acclaimed author Ernesto Mestre-Reed, is being compared to the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabelle Allende, and rightly so. In this novel, Mestre-Reed takes the reader into the world of Unica Aveyano, a Cuban immigrant now living with her family in the United States. She is also dying from cancer. Using techniques that are common in novels by Marquez and Allende, Mestre-Reed writes a vividly surreal-like story that moves back and forth between Cuba and the United States, told in dreamlike flashbacks and always returning back to the present. This is the story of Unica and her epic life story, which starts in Cuba before Castro comes to power, and will end in America.
The story revolves around Unica's life, but is interspersed with the news headline of Elian Gonzales, the young Cuban boy that was found adrift at sea and rescued, finally taken to Miami to be with his American relatives. His story parallels that of Unica's, for she is also a Cuban immigrant who left one member behind in the homeland, her son Candido. The book is a complex set of disjointed flashbacks, telling the story of three generations. Each character in this book is unique, each one having a more quirky history than the next. Together, they tell the story of Unica's life.
It takes a while for the reader to be able to put the pieces together to understand the complete story of Unica. But it is well worth the effort. It is a short novel, less than 300 pages, but Mestre-Reed is able to tell an entire life-story within these pages. This is not an easy read. But, this reviewer found it time worth spent, and highly recommends THE SECOND DEATH OF UNICA AVEYANO.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars author who is both fiction writer and poet August 14, 2004
Ernesto words are poetry. his command of language makes the words flow in this wonderful story where ernesto transports us back to Cuba, to another way of seeing the world
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Didn't want this book to end April 13, 2010
I loved this book. The writing is luminous, the characters are well-crafted, and the story line is compelling.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The Second Death of Unica Aveyano showcases both Ernesto Mestre-Reed's considerable strengths and weaknesses. He is a very good writer with a compelling writing style and has a knack for developing a diverse range of interesting, unique characters. Unfortunately, he crafts here a story so complexly disjointed it's frustratingly hard to follow. And, on occasion, his characters plod past interesting and unique into the realm of bizarre caricature. He also indulges n plot scenarios that border on the absurd. All in all it makes for a very exasperating read.
The book is based both in the US and Cuba and cuts back and forth through flashbacks so often one occasionally gets vertigo trying to keep up. There is very little early character development so one is trying to puzzle through who the players are for quite a while, a situation which detracts from the story itself. Moreover, through parts of the book, though not others, the story juxtaposes itself against the Elian Gonzalez story (that 6 year old whose mother died trying to get to the US and who then became the focus of a huge custody battle between S relatives and his father in Cuba). There are times when you almost begin to think elian is the real focus of the story-and then he completely disappears for 50-60 pages. Again, frustrating and confusing.
Unica Aveyano is a Cuban housewife and Mother with a checkered history of sorts. Her husband, Modesto, sees her, at the age of 16, on a visit home from the capital where he is a lawyer, falls for her, stays on and woo and wed her. She is recovering from cancer treatments and the book si told from her perspective. The real focus of the book, however, pops up in the form of their only child, Candido. Things may be confused and frustrating up to this point but here they fall apart.
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