Saturday, July 9, 2011

Los Gusanos

John Sayles the renowned filmmaker known for films of novelistic complexity (Lone Star, Men with Guns, Matewan, and City of Hope just to name my favorites) is not surprisingly a novelist, and a good one. Like some of his films he takes a politically sensitive area or situation and dramatizes it with an ensemble cast and a variety of view points. Here it is the Cuban refugee community in Southern Florida. His excellent ability with characters, dialogue, and a terrific cast of characters keeps this from being a dry history or a political message. The Bay of Pigs invasion haunts this book and is seen from multiple angles, at one point being portrayed in all its chaos and brutality but usually it just lurks as a shadow on every character as this book sweeps up history from Cocaine Cowboy /race riot era Miami to the whole of 20th century Cuba with a cast of gunrunners, gangsters, secret police, assassins, C.I.A. spooks, nurses, rebels, political prisoners, defrocked priests, and misfit teenagers. Whether the main story of a Cuban woman trying to plan a revenge for the failed invasion is worthwhile or just a vehicle to present the interwoven stories is answered by the tragic and haunting finale and its providing of final twist of cruel irony, but the stories carry the book and the plot heavy moments are portrayed with merciful economy.

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