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Firefly Paperback – Deckle Edge, March 5, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Severo Sarduy's Prix Médicis-winning Cobra

Sarduy is the master of wordscapes that dip, shake and explore. —New York Times Book Review

A paradise of words…a marbled iridescent text; we are gorged with language, like children who are never refused anything…Cobra is the pledge of continuous jubilation, The moment when by its very excess verbal pleasure chokes an reels into bliss. —Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text

Sarduy rendered the epiphany of the body luminous, where the pleasure of void meets the furious fire of the world. —The Washington Post

Severe Sarduy has everything…so brilliant, so funny, and so bewilderingly apt in his borrowings, his derivations, as well as in his inventions, his findings, he leaves one breathless, like a shot of rum.—Richard Howard

About the Author

Severo Sarduy (1937-1993), Cuban poet, fiction writer, playwright, and literary critic, is considered one of the best prose artists of the twentieth century. In 1972, he was awarded the Prix Médicis for Cobra, one of his six highly acclaimed novels. Sarduy also painted, hosted a radio program, and, as an editor at Editions du Seuil, introduced contemporary Latin American fiction to European readers. Sarduy was a leading intellectual in the early years of the Cuban Revolution.

Mark Fried is the translator of Eduardo Galeano’s Children of the Days, Mirrors, Voices of Time, Upside Down, Soccer in Sun and Shadow, Walking Words, and We Say No. He is also the translator of the historical collection Echoes of the Mexican-American War and works by Emilia Ferreiro, José Ignacio López Vigil, Oscar Ugarteche and Rafael Barajas Durán.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Archipelago (March 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193574464X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935744641
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.5 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,409,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Steven Davis on April 9, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Firefly is a fanciful and bitter composite portrait of Havana, past and present, as seen through the eyes and dreams of a mentally deficient youth named "Firefly," who is described as "melon-headed" and "Chinese-eyed" and begins the story sitting on a chamber pot.

Firefly's adventures are a series of encounters, embarrassments, revelations and escapes, many of them so surreal that Firefly convinces himself they are dreams or hallucinations. But the same bizarre and sordid characters keep turning up, leading him to conclude that he is surrounded by a diabolical conspiracy that is turning the city into a cesspit of vice.

Sarduy's language is ornate, colorful, and often playfully contradictory. A woman's shoes "looked like a frightened lizard had wrapped itself around her feet." Fresh air reeks, and a surface glimmers with the sheen of tarnished metal. The novel is also alarmingly adrift in time: People ride in carriages and use chamber pots, but they also listen to the radio and use hair spray. Later a sailing ship arrives in Havana and unloads a cargo of African slaves, but as the slaves were being auctioned on the dock, in the background "a pulley gave way and a big-screen television shattered against a mast."

Firefly himself muses on the relationship between literature and reality:

"'What they call writing,' he said to himself, 'must be just that: to be able to make some order out of things and their reflections.... If I could write,' he continued, 'I could make things appear and disappear as they really are instead of the jumbled way they look in the window, all mixed up with their reflections.
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Format: Paperback
Severo Sarduy (1937-1993), celebrated Cuban poet, fiction writer, playwright and literary critic. When Fidel Castro came to power in 1959 Sarduy managed to achieve a grant to study art in Paris, although never considering himself to be an exile or an immigrant he became a French citizen but is quoted as saying “I am a Cuban through and through, who just happens to live in Paris”, unfortunately he never returned to his native Cuba, dying as a result of complications from AIDS in 1993.

His obituary in “The Independent” says that in a 1986 interview Sarduy declared “I write only in order to make myself well. I write in an attempt to become normal, to be like everybody else, even though it's obvious I am not. I am a neurotic creature, a prey to phobias, burdened with obsessions and anxieties. And instead of going to a psychoanalyst or committing suicide or abandoning myself to drink and drugs, I write. That's my therapy.” The same article also quotes his as saying “Language, the desire to give life to things through words, is what makes us human.”

And “language” is the striking point as soon as you enter the world of Firefly, from page one, rich with such depth, you feel that every single word is of value, there is not a single shred of wastage here, a meticulous use of style, which can be challenging throughout, however I imagine nowhere near as challenging for us as readers compared to Mark Fried the translator.

For my full review go to http://messybooker.blogspot.com.au/
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