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Hon älskade Che (2003)

av Ana Menéndez

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1714118,357 (3.25)7
The story opens in contemporary Miami, where a young Cuban woman has for years been searching in vain for details of her birth mother. All she knows is that her mother delivered her into the hands of her grandfather, who fled Havana for Los Angeles with baby in tow. The quest for her mother seems hopeless until a mysterious parcel containing writings and photographs arrives in the mail. Along with several trips back to Havana, the daughter fits the pieces together and reconstructs the life of her mother, her youthful affair with the enigmatic Che and the child she bore by the handsome rebel.… (mer)

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Audio performed by Adriana Sananes and Eileen Stevens

A young woman, born in Cuba but raised in Miami by her maternal grandfather, is determined to finally find the mother who abandoned her – or saved her. Her grandfather didn’t find the scrap of paper her mother had pinned to the infant’s sweater until after they got to the United States. Printed on it was a quote from a Pablo Neruda poem, and this is the only clue she has as she begins to search for her mother. Several trips to Havana following her grandfather’s death bring her a sense of the island, but no further clues to her mother’s identity. She has all but given up the search when a mysterious package arrives, bearing no return address but a Spanish postmark. It contains letters, notes, photos and scraps of poetry that reveal a passionate affair between the woman claiming to be her mother – Teresa – and the charismatic Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

Oh, this is lush writing. The reader feels the tropical heat and humidity, smells and tastes the salty sea air, relishes in a faint breeze, hears the beat of a rain storm or the buzz of insects, sees the soft pastels of a decaying city. The beginning and ending sections are narrated by the nameless young woman (and voiced by Eileen Stevens). The middle section is devoted to Teresa’s story (performed by Adriana Sananes), and told in snippets of memories – poetic, erotic, sensual, passionate, and heartbreaking.

Along the way we get a mini-history lesson on the Cuban revolution, told in a very intimate and personal way. There are layers of deception here – Teresa works hard to keep her identity a secret, even from the child she loved enough to let go. And yet, something compels her to relay her story to the one person who needs to understand it. The looming question is whether Teresa’s account – hidden behind false names and inconsistencies with known facts – can be trusted. Is it fact, or fantasy?

Having the audio performed by two talented artists makes this all the more memorable. The performance by Adriana Sananes, in particular, was excellent; she really made me lose myself in Teresa’s story.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
Between the publications of In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd (2001) and Adios, Happy Homeland (2011), Menéndez published two novels, lived in Istanbul, ended her marriage, lived in Egypt as a Fulbright Scholar, and worked as a journalist. Loving Che (2003) and The Last War (2009), the former set in Florida and Cuba, the latter in Istanbul during the Iraq War, continue to explore the themes of the play between illusion and reality mediated by imagination and storytelling and the need to find one’s true self.

Loving Che is narrated by a young Cuban-American woman who returns to Cuba after having received a packet of photos and letters from a woman claiming to be her mother, who may or may not have been the lover of Che Guevara. The narrator's mother had sent her, as an infant, to Miami with her grandfather as he fled the country. The narrator goes to Havana to search for her mother; the center section of the novel consists of the mother's letters which chronicle the love affair in a fairly steamy fashion. More interesting to me were the bookends in which the narrator chronicles her quest throughout the city of Havana and finally back home to Florida. ( )
1 rösta janeajones | Jul 3, 2013 |
Library discard. 1 of 12 for $6. Mine is a different ed & cover ( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
"Whenever I travel, I like to spend the last day of my journey in the old part of town, lingering for hours in junk shops whose dusty shelves, no matter where in the world they may be, always seem to be piled high with old magazines and books and yellowed photographs."

Opening sentence really got me. I mused over the image it conjured for sometime before reading more. I wonder if the author really does do this. I suspect she does.

The story is something of a mother/daughter story so far, which would normally put me off, but I like Che, for all the wrong reasons, so I stuck it out and ended up liking the book.

I had some trouble with the rambling way the middle part of the story is told, through letters that feel more like how a scrapbook would read if it wasn't mostly pictures. The end is a bit too tidy, but I usually find endings too tidy.

Some quotes, in no particular order;

The next morning I spent several hours unable to move, staring only at the sliver of light through the closed blinds, and in my imagination the light was a solid thing gently trying to pry open the window. (page 75) I so love the idea of light as fingers.

...every era builds museums to its secret longings... (page 61) This refers to some kind of agreement with capitalism even though the country (Cuba) was moving to socialism. I am not sure how to apply this to today, but I know it does. It would take more thinking which I am not wont to do at the moment, but how wonderful I can note this here and come back to it later.

...the death that gently draped him. (page 66), referring to Che, but way too romantic for my tastes. I've read some about Che, and yes, you can't deny the romanticism. However, death and gently are not words that should go together describing him.

A kiss. The first parting of flesh. Everything that comes later is sweet elaboration. The first kiss is more intimate than the naked bed; its small perimeter already contains the first submission and the final betrayal. (page 91) Now this is not romantic and is a wonderful description of a kiss.

Loving Che was like palest sea foam, like wind through the stars (page 138) This is probably my least favorite sentence. So flowery and precious. Ick.

Women ate their dreams and bloomed like orchids in the rain. (page 19) And this is probably my favorite line.

'Don't you understand,' Calixto said to me before he left for Madrid, 'that the very word revolution is doomed to failure? Round and round and round, forever trapped inside its own semantic fortress, forced to retrace it steps for all eternity.' (page 152) And that line has probably been said in many ways since the French Revolution, but somehow we always think we are going to change the meaning of the word. ( )
  Zmrzlina | Nov 11, 2007 |
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Whenever I travel, I like to spend the last day of my journey in the old part of town, lingering for hours in junk stores whose dusty shelves, no matter where in the world they may be, always seemm to be piled high with old magazines and gooks and yellowed photographs.
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The story opens in contemporary Miami, where a young Cuban woman has for years been searching in vain for details of her birth mother. All she knows is that her mother delivered her into the hands of her grandfather, who fled Havana for Los Angeles with baby in tow. The quest for her mother seems hopeless until a mysterious parcel containing writings and photographs arrives in the mail. Along with several trips back to Havana, the daughter fits the pieces together and reconstructs the life of her mother, her youthful affair with the enigmatic Che and the child she bore by the handsome rebel.

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