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The Astral Plane: Stories of Cuba, The Southwest, and Beyond Paperback – January 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Review

In her new compilation of short fiction The Astral Plane: Stories of Cuba, the Southwest and Beyond, Teresa Dovalpage offers a diversity characters in the midst of decisions and transitions. In the presence of South Indian Yogis, New Mexican Santeros, Afro-Cuban Orishas, Edgar Allen Poe, The Beatles and La Llorona, the author details moments in the lives of Cubans, Nuevo Mexicanos and Anglo-Americans.

The stories are sometimes comical and often tragic but always engaging. In each one, Dovalpage reminds us that any choice we make, from deciding to leave the country, to walking around the block to engaging in a conversation with a total stranger, could become momentous. In the blink of an eye, the insignificant turns historic.

Although each story is self contained and can be read independently, it is when they are read together that they are most affective, unsettling, comic and heartfelt. Characters, storylines, and motifs reappear from one tale to the next, informing and enriching each other. While every story is distinct, these protagonists, who are from varied cultural and economic backgrounds, share common struggles as they stumble in search for a way to escape or a place to land, to live, to be who they are. There are no heroes in these stories but they are not villains either, much like in everyday life. Oddly, that is what is most comforting, for lack of a better word, about
The Astral Plane: Stories of Cuba, the Southwest and Beyond, at least for this reader. Dovalpage's characters exude an unapologetic normalcy in their flaws that even toothless false prophets, calculating serial killers, conniving prostitutes, and scheming mothers-in-law become endearing in the end.
(Carolina Caballero LatinoLA, February 2, 2012)

The stories are thoroughly Cuban, original, delightful, and unexpected. In this cohesive collection, Ms. Dovalpage’s prodigious talent takes us on a dazzling journey of high drama, whimsical imagery, nail-biting suspense, and laugh-out-loud hilarity. Along the way she lays bare the reality of life in Cuba and totally debunks the myths of the Castro Revolution.

One favorite passage includes a lyrical, evocative description of El Malecón that made me weep with longing for the sights, sounds, and smells of that drive; a paragraph later I erupted in laughter at a character’s offhand comment. This savory collection is certain to become a favorite read, highly recommended. (February 4, 2012)

Teresa Dovalpage’s latest collection of short stories The Astral Plane features a set of stories where the characters have a tenuous connection to each other. The stories showcase how the Cuban Hispanic diaspora spread with contacts with former relatives, escapees via the rafts, and with contacts with visitors and universities that can travel to Cuba with ease. Thus, stories take place partly in Cuba, in Miami, and in Albuquerque.

Throughout the tales, the change brought about by Fidel Castro seep out in details about the way people live, the food they eat, the political pressures to conform, the desire for US Cash and lifestyle and the turn to the Santeria religion.

Teresa Dovalpage constructs her stories with a heavy dose of metaphor that is artfully shared by taking a distant point of view and by carefully constructing her plots. The plots unfold in a chatty fashion where you learn about the people that surround a character, their family, their friends, and their style of life.

Readers will enjoy the unusual mix of character types, settings, and plots that can introduce them to a politically strong minority population in the United States. They make a potent case for democracy and capitalism.
(Sheri Fresonke Harper The Compulsive Reader, March 2012)

The Astral Plane is the latest book by Cuban author Teresa Dovalpage. Ziva Sahl describes the stories in Dovalpage's collection as, 'thoroughly Cuban, original, delightful, and unexpected.'
I had the chance to read the book and can only say that The Astral Plane is another fine accomplishment by one of our most talented Latina writers these days. (Mayra Calvani The Examiner, May 22, 2012)

About the Author

Teresa Dovalpage was born in Havana, Cuba in 1966 and resides in Taos, New Mexico. She has a Doctorate in Hispanic American Literature and is a professor and the University of New Mexico in Taos.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: University of New Orleans Press (January 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608010767
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608010769
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,039,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By A. Griffin on July 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I couldn't stop reading this book; drawn as I was into the place, time and personal story that informed each character and his/her relationships to one other - both within every story and woven between them.

The complexity comprising our humanness is embodied in the hopes, dreams, aspirations, fears, madness and shame of each vivid individual whom I feel I came to know and would recognize in a crowd. Some I would embrace in friendship, admire for their devotion to faith and family, or want to comfort in their displacement and abandonment; while others I would pity or recoil from in horror.

Through the voices and circumstances of these plausible, vulnerable, tough and always-real characters, Teresa DovalPage takes us on powerful journey deep into life in post-Revolutionary Cuba, and to various places in the U.S. where her fellow countrymen have sought to create a better life, to varying degrees of success and failure, connection and disconnection. While each story is place- and character-specific, it is also universal, which is the mark of the truly great storyteller. I am excited and delighted to have encountered the work of Ms. DovalPage and can't wait to read more. I highly recommend you do likewise.
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