Cubop City Blues by Pablo Medina, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Cubop City Blues

Cubop City Blues

by Pablo Medina
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions


Poet and novelist Pablo Medina’s Cubop City Blues, fuses raw, passionate language and elegant lyricism to breathe life into a musically disguised New York City, shaped by jazz masters, refugees, and storytellers.

Our guide into Cubop City is The Storyteller, born nearly blind and shrouded in his mother’s guilt. He’s homeschooled inside

Overview


Poet and novelist Pablo Medina’s Cubop City Blues, fuses raw, passionate language and elegant lyricism to breathe life into a musically disguised New York City, shaped by jazz masters, refugees, and storytellers.

Our guide into Cubop City is The Storyteller, born nearly blind and shrouded in his mother’s guilt. He’s homeschooled inside his parents’ crumbling apartment with a European housekeeper, and educated through The Encyclopedia Britannica, The Bible, and The Arabian Nights. When he’s twenty-five, his mother and father, both Cuban exiles, are diagnosed with cancer, and The Storyteller alone is left to care for them. He does so by telling them stories, conceived from the prolific reading that allowed his imagination to deepen and flourish despite little contact with the outside world.

Through his tales—full of magic, sorrow, longing, and romance—Cubop City surges colorfully to life. Molded in the cadence and harmony of Afro-Cuban jazz, Cubop City Blues is a symphonic portrait of a bustling urban landscape and the intimate lives and stories that give a city its voice.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
The book falls somewhere between a novel and a story collection, but it owes as much to music as to any literary form, unified less by plot or characters than by the buoyant yet wistful mood and recurring motifs…
—Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow
Publishers Weekly
In this haunting love letter to New York, poet and novelist Medina (The Cigar Roller) crafts a hybrid novel/story collection that vivifies the cityscape over many decades with tales of love, death, and exile. The central figure is a nearly blind young Cuban man living in Manhattan with his dying parents, Cuban exiles. To comfort them, he becomes “The Storyteller” of prose poems about where they left and where they live: there’s the recurring character of Angel, a writer and foot fetishist, who seeks the man who stabbed him. There’s Cornelia, the Storyteller’s Hungarian housekeeper, who escaped the violence of postwar Europe. And other singular tales: a professor falls in love with a younger male colleague; a Cuban blackjack dealer is lured to Las Vegas; a musician takes part in the dawn of Afro-Cuban jazz. The stories are rich and accomplished, but the farther they veer from Cubop City (New York, to the narrator) the less compelling they become. Medina is best when dealing with erotic loss, and has a keen eye for the ebb and flow of desire. While the Storyteller device feels like an excuse to digress, there is beauty, suffused with a muted melancholy, in Medina’s attempt to capture the rhythms of life. Agent: Elaine Thoma, Markson Thoma Literary Agency. (June)
From the Publisher

"[Medina's] most touching novel to date . . . A rich and stunning novel with an incredibly intricate scaffolding. . . . Yet another triumph."—Los Angeles Review of Books

“[A] haunting love letter to New York . . . Vivifies the cityscape over many decades with tales of love, death, and exile . . . Rich and accomplished . . . Medina has a keen eye for the ebb and flow of desire. . . . There is beauty, suffused with a muted melancholy, in Medina’s attempt to capture the rhythms of life.”—Publishers Weekly

"An enjoyable read that reminds us the world is as expansive as our imagination. Readers who enjoy the work of Omar Torres and Cristina Garcia will want to add Medina to their reading list."—Library Journal

"Storytelling that playfully illuminated the essence of storytelling."—Kirkus Reviews

Library Journal
In Exiled Memories: A Cuban Childhood, Medina (writing, Emerson Coll.) recounted stories from his own life and that of his elders in prerevolutionary Cuba before the family left for the United States. Here, he employs a personal narrative voice in the form of a nearly blind storyteller to enliven the fictional world of Cubop City, a reimagined New York City at the time when Latin jazz first flourished there. Isolated in an apartment with his ailing Cuban exile parents, the young storyteller provides escape for them by chronicling the colorful characters and rhythmic tales that abide in the world outside their bedroom window. While a lonely professor of English ponders his abandoned poetry career in New York, the ambitious Johnny Luna plots his escape from Havana to Miami. Though many of the characters here are fictional, Medina also conjures figures from history, writing a compelling story about the death of Latin jazz luminary Chano Pozo. Within the larger themes of exile and escape, the characters are bound together in their individual search for reconciliation and redemption. VERDICT An enjoyable read that reminds us the world is as expansive as our imagination. Readers who enjoy the work of Omar Torres and Cristina Garcia will want to add Medina to their reading list. [See Prepub Alert, 12/5/11.]—Joshua Finnell, Denison Univ. Lib., Granville, OH
Kirkus Reviews
Storytelling that playfully illuminates the essence of storytelling, though heavier on atmosphere and color than narrative momentum and cohesion. Some of the shorter vignettes seem to function as prose poems, and a few of the longer pieces work as stand-alone stories, though the recurrence of characters throughout the selections suggests a novelistic scope. The titular "Cubop City" is a Manhattan of the imaginary realm; it is "walking words and static silence and drums and saints and demons with penises like flaming hoses stalking the pretty girls by the school door...It is the long nose of the marketplace and the short nose of the church." But it is not the only city explored here, as the book culminates in the birth of Afro-Cuban jazz in New Orleans (with Jelly Roll Morton as midwife) and makes extended stops in Havana and Las Vegas. The stories are attributed to "The Storyteller," a blind man born to parents who never loved him or each other and are now on the verge of death. "I made believe I could see, I made believe I was a character in the stories," he explains. "I made believe I had a life inside the fiction, that I could love and be afraid and tell stories and be wounded and married and divorced and live alongside the characters I created. And that it was all true." Such truth manifests itself in repeated incidents of stabbing wounds and obsessions or foot fetishism, amid a more pervasive sexuality. He writes of "trying to devise a story that had no solitude, no death, and no sex. No sex? It was like fishing for the impossible fish." Love of life, music, sex and language redeem a work that might have benefited from more continuity and focus.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802146083
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
06/11/2013
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
1,255,116
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.40(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"[Medina's] most touching novel to date . . . A rich and stunning novel with an incredibly intricate scaffolding. . . . Yet another triumph."—Los Angeles Review of Books

“[A] haunting love letter to New York . . . Vivifies the cityscape over many decades with tales of love, death, and exile . . . Rich and accomplished . . . Medina has a keen eye for the ebb and flow of desire. . . . There is beauty, suffused with a muted melancholy, in Medina’s attempt to capture the rhythms of life.”—Publishers Weekly

"An enjoyable read that reminds us the world is as expansive as our imagination."—Library Journal

"Storytelling that playfully illuminated the essence of storytelling."—Kirkus Reviews

Meet the Author


Pablo Medina was born in Havana, Cuba, and came to New York City at the age of twelve. He is the author of eleven books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and translation. His sixth collection of poetry, Highway of Blazing Cars, is forthcoming from Hanging Loose Press. A recipient of numerous awards for his work, Pablo Medina resides in Boston and teaches writing, literature, and translation at Emerson College.

Visit his website at pablomedina.org

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >