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Alan Cambeira "author of Azucar's Trilogy" RSS Feed (Dominican Republic, author of Tattered Paradise...Azucar's Trilogy Ends)
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Save Me in the Night
Save Me in the Night
by Wendell Gary
Edition: Paperback
Price: $23.23
11 used & new from $23.23

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding bi-fictional novel, June 29, 2012
This review is from: Save Me in the Night (Paperback)
Book Review by Alan Cambeira, author of The Azúcar Trilogy

Save Me in the Night by Wendell Gary is a strangely intriguing book. The author himself describes his literary piece as ..."a new genre called a bi-fictional novel." Again, for me personally, without question, I found Gary's work quite captivating, thought-provoking, and arousing much curiosity. In all honesty, I was not able to read this rather ponderous [625 pages excluding end notes], chatty, meandering, and admittedly well research book in a single sitting. I suspect many seasoned readers themselves would need to "come up for air" or "take a deep breathe"at regular intervals before venturing another plunge into this complicated work.

Gary traverses an exceeding wide range of ground -- almost to the extent that the reader might be well served with a GPS navigator.This observation is most genuinely not intended to undercut Gary's writing style. Rather, what I encounter is his considerably ample focus: detailed accounts of a multitude of both imaginary and factual personalities, an abundance of news events [past and current], a broad panorama of religious perspectives [but seemingly most particularly traditional African American Protestant theology], a personalized dissection of the United States government system, world history, notions of humanity, unanswerable questions of metaphysics, demonic forces in battle with "truth". There's also seems to be the deliberate preeminence of sexuality on a totally unexpected [at least for this reader] personal level.

Finally, there is the unmasked treatment of a large number of noted living, and some deceased individuals. This especially lengthy preoccupation suggests a clear autobiographical tone and purpose. I was not totally certain of this. I also question [again with positive intentions] the need to "reveal" or perhaps"expose" the more salacious aspects and secrets of these personalities. The author displays his impressive research skills in appropriately interweaving biblical references into selected instances of his storytelling. An unlikely, but effective, functioning collaboration of his ministerial training and his professional involvement in the music industry, this unique tale, according to its author, aims to "save us from tyranny." Quite a challenge and well worth the read.

Alan Cambeira

Bávaro, República Dominicana

July 2012


Exposure Behind Closed Doors
Exposure Behind Closed Doors
by Victoria Taylor Murray
Edition: Paperback
Price: $31.95
20 used & new from $24.43

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Her Best Yet !, June 11, 2007
I am a Lambert series fan and Victoria Taylor Murray is one of several authors I thoroughly enjoy reading. Her romantic suspenses are exceptionally well written; this genre is clearly her forte. Her choice for the locale of her latest work, New Orleans, is superb since the city and its historic ambiance lends itself beautifully to the inherent mystic.There is definitely something alluring about the often misrepresented world of glamorous supermodels, and the added aspect of the international flare renders any story engulfing them all the more tantalizing. Victoria has certainly done it again in providing her faithfull readers with measured tension and page-turning excitement. This may well be regarded as her best effort to date.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 13, 2007 6:18 PM PDT


Before Night Falls: A Memoir
Before Night Falls: A Memoir
by Dolores M. Koch
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.75
191 used & new from $0.01

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Transcending The Particularities of Sexual Orientation", June 28, 2005
Despite coming from a poor rural background, Reinaldo Arenas [1943-1990] was successful in having studied at Universidad de La Habana and later worked in the prestigious Biblioteca Nacional [National Library]. At bitter, even dangerous odds with the Revolutionary regime in Cuba both politically and on account of his open homosexuality, Arenas was expelled from Cuba in 1980 [during the Muriel Exodus] and lived in New York City, with AIDS, until his suicide in 1990. Shamefully underrated in this country, Arenas published more than a dozen remarkable works, many of which are now available in English translation.

Arenas's highly acclaimed autobiography, BEFORE NIGHT FALLS, adapted to the large screen with the brilliant Spanish actor Javier Bardem in the title role, is a work that has all the resonance of true art and thus transcends the particularities of the artist's sexual orientation. What we have instead is a painfully honest portrait of intimacy and the insights its gives the reader are into the universal human condition. Arenas has the stunning ability [as seen in his fictional novel FAREWELL TO THE SEA, 1982] to reach out for the deepest frequencies of the heart, for those elusive qualities of the spirit... if you will. Arenas is exhilarated by life's realities and is excited by merely being alive. A large measure of that exhilaration, I'm convinced from a careful reading of his short stories and poetry, emanates from the thinking life, the life of reveries and of intimate reflection. As much drama takes place in the writer's mind as in his external life. Thinking and reflecting are keenly stimulating for this extraordinarily beleaguered artist. This autobiography is shocking and agonizing, but also vibrant and insightful, jubilant and witty ... and perhaps most reflective of the writer's multiplicity of moods, consistently rebellious to the core.

Arenas's language is poetically eloquent. His is an art structured from and upon his own honesty and his unusual experiences ... not from clever word play or verbal pyrotechnics. Arenas deals in reality-facing and he addresses this reality with a special rhetoric of a kind of spiritual sensibility and a unique voice [rather bold for Latin American literature], thus transforming the real into a vision of what's true and honest, what's possible, what's beautiful. But of course, he committed suicide to end it, didn't he? In every sense of the term, Arenas's expressed passions are a humanist's vision that is earned and authenticated in his writing, one that all readers can feel and experience. I agree with reviewer Grady Harp, himself an outstanding poet, when he stated some time ago that Arenas wrote with a depth of "truth and observation that exudes Magical Realism." It was L. Frank Baum [THE WIZARD OF OZ] who remarked, "There ARE strange creatures in this forest. But are they ALL wild?" Arenas is highly recommended reading!

Alan Cambeira

author of Azucar's Sweet Hope...Her Story Continues.


The Turkish Lover
The Turkish Lover
by Esmeralda Santiago
Edition: Hardcover
98 used & new from $0.01

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Ode To Love, May 24, 2005
This review is from: The Turkish Lover (Hardcover)
Esmeraldo Santiago continues being captivating and at the same time totally refreshing. It is mainly because of her wonderful literary skill: distinctively interwoven poetic lyricism, rhapsodic narrative and rhythmic dialogue. Santiago's prose flows with a ready elegance, yet it has a seductive element that is quite subtle. She speaks for many young Latina women when she daringly exposes her vulnerability to the traditional and often overwhelming horrors of an abusive machismo ... whether boricua, dominicano, mexicano, Turkish or Anglo-Saxon. Ultimately, she triumphs gleefully with the astute realization that "there's always another train on the way."

THE TURKISH LOVER, unquestionably like the previous offerings from this powerfully talented writer, is certain to touch the lives of many of her readers. This latest work by Santiago is a joyous ode to love itself. Te felicito, hermana.

Alan Cambeira

author of Azucar's Sweet Hope...Her Story Continues.


The Dew Breaker
The Dew Breaker
by Edwidge Danticat
Edition: Hardcover
90 used & new from $0.01

26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Framing The Unmasterable, Memoried Past, April 17, 2004
This review is from: The Dew Breaker (Hardcover)
Danticat is enormously good for us, especially now. She reminds us of the beautiful literary spirit of Haiti... much like that glorious cadre of revolutionary Haitian women literary figures Ghislaine Charlier, Jan J. Dominique, Nadine Magloire, and of course Marie Chauvet and more recently Myriam Chancy. Exquisite writers all. Danticat, like her sisters, reminds us of the rich literary legacy that truly celebrates all that is beautiful about this much maligned and misunderstood country. Danticat herself, in my view, is an accident of literary privilege, a formidably keen observer or witness to events that have happened or to what is currently happening. This story, The Dew Breaker, while a horribly true tale of interwoven lives connected gruesomely by the "beast", actually chose her; she is the extremely gifted and talented vessel that serves to receive this story.
Is there redemption for the protagonist, the shoukèt laroze himself? I don't know. Perhaps even Danticate isn't quite certain. The protagonist, an ultimately pathetic soul, is caught up in a nightmarish episode of reality --as is all of Haiti. As his daughter peels away the layers of his humanity, penetrating ever so deeper into his tortured soul to see just who he is, she too (like us) arrives at the point of moral ambiguity about her father. The skillful artistry in Danticat actually tortures us with this sense of indefiniteness ... which is what all excellent writers often do, of course. With measured steps,the author takes a daring literary plunge into the often risky arena between the short story and the novella. She triumphs wonderfully. In telling a painfully good story, Danticat presents us with real people agonizing in their search for answers, explanations and understandings. M' pa di passé ça.
Definitely recommended reading.
Alan Cambeira
Author of AZUCAR! The Story of Sugar (a novel)


One Hundred Years of Solitude (Oprah's Book Club)
One Hundred Years of Solitude (Oprah's Book Club)
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Edition: Paperback
375 used & new from $0.01

23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Existence Is The Word, March 7, 2004
By now, of course, the entire world is familiar with this stellar masterpiece that introduced Latin American literature to North American readers (last to join an already buzzing worldwide readership). The work has been translated even into languages like Quiché, Guaraní and Catalán. This unusual tale depicts the origins and ultimate demise of the mythical town of Macondo through the saga of the enigmatic Buendía family. In this richly symbolic and multilayered chronicle of life and death -- with repeating names, endless revolutions and deluvial rains, lust, incest, death, a search for truth and a plague of menacing red ants-- we are witness to the magical realism that essentially defines Latin America in every regard. To understand intimately Latin America is to understand the subtleties and wry humor of ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE.
This novel by Gabriel García Márquez, my absolute favorite author without exception, was first published in 1967 in Argentina under the title CIEN AÑOS DE SOLDEDAD, with the English translation appearing in 1970. It must have been about 1972-73 when I first read the original Spanish version and became enraptured immediately by the brilliance of this masterful piece of Latin American fiction, the most unusually crafted and the most widely discussed/debated literary creation in several decades across Latin America. Since its initial success worldwide, this rare gem has seen accompanying study guides, essays, dissertations, seminars, related university courses, entire books authored by noted contemporary literary figures devoted to the subject of interpreting this novel as well as to the author's entire body of literary production. I recall once viewing (1985) a personal interview filmed by the author, "García Márquez está cansado de las equivocaciones de la crítica" [GM is tired of the errors of the criticism]. The artist himself set the record straight regarding what he intended in this monumentally ambitious tale.
Here in a nutshell for novice readers of Latin American literature translated into English are the preeminent themes running through this mystical novel: the interconnectedness of myth, reality, time and space; myth and history; the journey through the labyrinth of Latin American reality; the intertextuality of fiction and reality; a reality called "fiction"; the three levels of reality in one hundred years; violence and death as imaginary acts from a Latin perspective; man in search of himself in the surrealism of time and space; Macondo as a distinctive magical and Latin American domain; the fictionalization of history; the comic and carnivalesque; the subversion of time and space; geneological imperatives; the origins of Western civilization in Latin America; a portrait of Latin America: civilization vs barbarism; the Latin American novel as symbol of myth and archive; the tragic cylce and concept of collective identity and simultaneity; Latin American history as hieroglyphics; and perhaps finally ... the myth of apocalipse and human temporality.
Gracias, Oprah, for bringing to the eager attention of your book club readers this serious literary work intended to provoke thought and a profoundly important classic from my part of the world. Next, please allow them to be equally seduced by the likes of Isabel Allende, Marise Condé, René Depestre, Luz Argentina Chiriboga or Earl Lovelace.
Alan Cambeira
Author of AZUCAR! The Story of Sugar (a novel)


The House on the Lagoon
The House on the Lagoon
by Rosario Ferre
Edition: Paperback
133 used & new from $0.01

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Intertextuality, March 7, 2004
Rosario Ferré is without doubt a formidable writer with broad literary formation (holding a doctorate in Latin American literature) and impressive versatility in genres: short story, poetry, essay, novelist. She joins that welcomed and exciting cadre of Latina writers who skillfully articulates profound feminist concerns in their respective societies. In THE HOUSE ON THE LAGOON, Ferré presents two of her constantly recurring themes that form the core of her literary trajectory: Puerto Rican reality past and present ... the agonizing socio-psychological consequences produced by the unique historical-political-economic link to the United States; and Latina feminism accompanied by society's ugly prejudicial response. This story offers a highly critical view of Puerto Rican society with a bold reinterpretation of her island's history. As in all her tales and essays (as she herself has revealed) there is a thinly veiled autobiographical reflection. Ferré crafts a stunning literary language that expresses itself via surreal images similar to those that characterized the vanguard writers and visual artists of the opening decades of the twentieth century. In Spanish we call the technique "desdoblamiento" -- the exposition or unfolding of images to narrate the events afflicting her protagonists. It perhaps functions more intensively in the original Spanish. But what results in essence is a mystical fusion of fiction and reality ... magical realism. This is a mesmerizing work by an extremely talented writer and is highly recommended.
Alan Cambeira
Author of AZUCAR! The Story of Sugar (a novel)


War songs: Metaphors in clay and poetry from the Vietnam experience
War songs: Metaphors in clay and poetry from the Vietnam experience
by Grady Harp
Edition: Paperback

52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Vessels of Hope, January 27, 2004
I am convinced that Grady Harp's virtues as a poet are extraordinary. Through his fearless language and bold imagery, Harp's reality of war (but also of peace) becomes its acquired life. Just twenty poems --yet powerfully and beautifully crafted in unique synthesis with Stephen Freeman's exquisite pottery -- remind us of the preciousness of human life itself, irrespective of whether that life is friend of foe. These twenty reflective poems are agonizing, torturous, admirable, compelling. I cried more than once. Still, I've told myself that I shall treasure this collection by Grady Harp and return often to it in order to remind myself of my gradual deepening confidence in the human spirit. This is a triumphant little book.


Living to Tell the Tale
Living to Tell the Tale
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.48
411 used & new from $0.01

50 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amalgam of Marquezian Genius, November 26, 2003
Thankfully, volumes of scholarly papers will continue to be written, seminars and graduate-level university courses will continue to be developed focusing upon this literary giant --and deservingly so. We are all the more priviledged as beneficiaries of this extraordinary talent. Garcia Marquez writes with the simplicity, serenity, ease and purity that are the mark of an absolute master. His ingenius combination of grace and vibrancy is astonishing. With this new offering, Living to Tell the Tale [Vivir Para Contarla], it all comes together in this long-anticipated personal account of one of the world's remaining literary treasures. The imagery of Garcia Marquez, my all-time favorite writer, is breathtakingly superb. Here we have an exquisite amalgam of Marquezian genius: all the fabulous characters, descriptions and locales we have come to know and cherish from the full range of his fiction. I couldn't agree more with those insightful reviewers who wishly urge for anyone new to Garcia Marquez a necessary reading of several of his important novels prior to indulging in this glorious triumph: "One Hundred Years of Solitude," "Love in the Times of Cholera," "No One Writes to the Colonel," and "The General in His Labyrinth." And for anyone able to read the original Spanish version is indeed for a sublime treat. Don Gabriel, mil gracias de nuevo; you are Humanity's Gift to the World!
Alan Cambeira
Author of AZUCAR! The Story of Sugar (a novel)


Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo
Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo
by Hayden Herrera
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.07
206 used & new from $0.66

48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seminal Study on Enigmatic Personality, November 18, 2003
This is an extremely important, long overdue and commanding work on one of the most significant artistic personalities of the 20th century. The author, Hayden Herrera, is perhaps one of the few best qualified writers to present this indepth, intense penetration into the tumultuous life and work of such a complex figure in the art world. Frida Kahlo, as readers/viewers in the United States by now are aware, created some of the most unconventionally brilliant --even shocking works of arts the world has seen. Herrera's impeccable scholarship and research skills are impressive and at the same time delicately compassionate and vibrant. The movie version, by the way, was wonderful and Salma Hayek was amazing in the lead role. Thank you Hayden; thank you Frida! Absolutely spectacular subject.
Alan Cambeira
Author of AZUCAR! The Story of Sugar (a novel)


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