Ay, Cuba!: A Socio-Erotic Journey

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9780312274719: Ay, Cuba!: A Socio-Erotic Journey

Sensuous, exotic, gritty, contradictory -- Cuba in all its glory

In Ay,Cuba!, Andrei Codrescu and David Graham seek the heart and soul of this island ninety miles off the Florida coast and yet a world away. Carousing with Cuban prostitutes, intellectuals, hustlers, and laborers, Codrescu and Graham combine edgy narratives with stunning color photography to create a daring and compelling travelogue. Exploring the architecture, the bizarre two-tier economy of peso and dollar, revivals of both Catholicism and the Afro-Cuban religion of santeria, and the sexual and social mores of a post-cold war communist society, Ay,Cuba! uncovers the maddening and seductive complexities of this fiercely proud yet deeply divided society. This is a provocative look behind the headlines at a world both familiar and exotic.

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Review:

When Romanian exile and National Public Radio commentator Andrei Codrescu was given an assignment by his producer to travel to Cuba just before the pope's historic visit in 1998, he jumped at the chance. Cuba had been on his mind for years as part of his pursuit to understand the mysterious demise of Communism in Eastern Europe. Castro's Cuba, he felt, was the only place that held the clues to this demise; it was a "laboratory of pre-post-communism" where he could witness "a decomposing ideology before all its elements transmuted into the noxious gases that gag Eastern Europe now."

Together with documentary photographer David Graham, Codrescu went on a 13-day journey, and he encountered warm, affectionate, hospitable people. What surprised Codrescu and Graham most about the Cubans was their candor: They spoke of their nation with a mix of pride, hopelessness, and amusement--a major contrast to Codrescu's experience in post-Communist Romania back in 1989. The two met and interviewed a broad range of artists, architects, prostitutes, and members of the working class. They also met some international celebrities, such as baseball player and recent defector El Duque Hérnandez.

Codrescu's lively, at times irreverent and comical narration and Graham's expressive photos evoke the passion, culture, economics, and politics that shape the nation. Ay, Cuba! is an enlightening and important book, made more urgent by Codrescu's indelible and fully realized portrait of the twilight of Fidel Castro's 40-year reign, one that shatters the politically constructed, media-perpetuated American myths so carefully ingrained in our conscience since the cold war. --Kera Bolonik

From the Publisher:

Praise for Andrei Codrescu and David Graham:

"Andrei Codrescu is a startlingly original explainer of places who manages to be as entertaining as he is perceptive... The perfect traveling companion." --John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

"[Codrescu is] one of our most prodigiously talented and magical writers." --The New York Times Book Review

"Heady, silly, bombastic, and right-on, Codrescu in print is just as affecting as he is on air." --The Washington Post

"Andrei Codrescu makes a delightful traveling companion...Chance encounters are sure to be memorable when you're traveling with Andrei Codrescu." --San-Diego Union-Tribune

"[David Graham] is as sensitive to color, form, and pictorial rhythm as he is to topography, culture, and human nature. He takes subtle pictures of unsubtle things." --People magazine

"Graham [is] one of the most exuberant (and least judgmental) photographers of the kitsch American landscape." --The Village Voice

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