Cristina Garcia

Last night I finished Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia. We had had the book in the house for a long time. I’m not sure where we got it. But Kate read parts of it to Cynthia when Cynthia was in her last stages of illness. Then Kate read the entire book and told me it was beautiful, so, I, sick of endlessly gluing myself to this computer screen, decided to read it.

It is indeed beautiful and has a mystical quality, a quality which Garcia says in the interviews I’ve just been reading, is found in many Cubans and is absorbed from their culture. The main character of the book, a woman named Celia, leads a mystical inner life and worships her early lover before she marries the father of her children. She writes to this early lover throughout her lifetime but never actually mails the letters. She’s a strong supporter of Castro unlike some other family members but Garcia does not take a political position on this.

I find it interesting that Garcia says she wouldn’t be a writer if it weren’t for poetry. Here’s a quotation of hers from an Atlantic interview:


I wouldn’t be a writer if it weren’t for poetry. I think what catapulted me into wanting to write was reading poetry seriously, beginning around my late twenties, early thirties. Before then I was just a voracious reader. Discovering Wallace Stevens, García Lorca, and Octavio Paz—they were the three initially—was like falling in love. It’s become a daily essential. In fact, when you called I was just reading some poetry because I can’t really start my day until I read for an hour or two and think about stuff and have all these disparate images floating around, derailing me from more logical, more ordered thinking. I like the kind of messiness it engenders in me as far as images. The poets are my heroes.

Imagine that! In love with Wallace Stevens. I would be too if I could understand him. Well, I do understand him a little but I’m too left-brained in general. More messiness in thinking is perhaps a good thing. Let’s get some action out of the right brain before plunging into left brain analysis!

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  1. Kate’s avatar

    I have the opposite problem, not enough left–brain! To be truthful, I’ve been feeling like I’m stuck in a “gray zone” (ha ha) where nothing much gets solved or created between the left and right! IF that is even possible! More likely, I’m just lazy. However, reading (creative writing / poetry )first thing in the morning IS a lovely way to begin the day… unless you have to go to some stupid job where that kind of thinking is dangerous.. like if you have to work in a factory around lots of sharp things…

    To clarify, I didn’t get a chance to read this book to Mom (though I’m sure she would have liked it). It was the Essays on Cuba book that I read parts of with her. We got on a little Cuba kick for a while there, and even re-watched parts of the movie “The Buena Vista Social Club” again together. We enjoyed the music and singing so much.

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