El Secreto De Los Toros (Secret of the Bulls)by Jose Raul Bernardo
'Esta cautivadora novela de la Cuba de antano se merece una amplia acogida debido a su suntuosa narrative. Los panoramas, los sonidos, y los aromas de La Habana transportaran a los lectores a una tierra que hoy les tienen prohibido visitar'. -James Michener
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- Product dimensions:
- 0.75(w) x 5.00(h) x 8.00(d)
Meet the Author
José Raúl Bernardo
I was born in Luyano, one of the poorest neighborhoods of Havana, Cuba, in 1938, on the Street of the Bulls, to parents of very limited means but unlimited dreams. My father had to work long hours at a bookstore to make ends meet, which meant I didn't get to see him a lot, and when I did, he was surrounded by books. My mother worked even longer hours at home, something she did while singing all day long in that beautiful voice of hers that still rings in my ears.
Ever since I can remember, I yearned for my father to embrace me instead of one of those books he loved so much. I dreamed of being a writer to earn his approval. I also dreamed of being a composer so I could create beautiful songs like the ones my mamma loved to sing. But a boy like me, born in Luyano, who loved to read and sing, was always cruelly taunted by the rest of the neighborhood boys, and, lacking the courage to challenge them, I set aside those dreams and did what Luyano boys could do: I studied building construction, something I truly enjoyed, and ended up registering in the school of architecture at the university.
While still a student, in my final year, I was taken prisoner by members of the Castro regime because I dared to publicly disagree with their doctrine. I escaped to the United States and found work in Florida on a tomato plantation. After years of hard labor I eventually landed in New York City. I became the assistant to architect Wallace Harrison as he designed the new Metropolitan Opera House. While completing my education, I became an American citizen.
Working on the Opera House rekindled my dreams of being a composer. That's when I decided to writemy first opera: an opera about a Cuban poet in exile. And since I didn't know of anybody who would write the libretto, I had no choice but to write it myself.
It took me ten years before I had the courage to show the score to professional musicians, and then, before I realized it, the opera had been performed. It won several awards, and both the American and European presses had raved about both the music and the libretto. However, out of the generous grant I received from the National Opera Institute to produce it, not a single penny of it had ended up in my pockets! So, it was back to the drawing board to make a living.
Twenty years went by, and I had just designed a house for Bob Gottlieb, the former editor-in-chief of The New Yorker, and his wife, the actress Maria Tucci, when my mother died. I was so consumed with grief that I just sat down at an old typewriter and, working like a maniac, eighteen, twenty hours a day, I began jotting down things she had told me about her life and about her family's life so I would not forget them, now that she was gone. Less than a month later I had completed the first draft of The Secret of the Bulls. I let it sit untouched for a long while. Then, with great apprehension, I dared to send it to Bob, who, by then, was living in his newly finished house. I figured it would take him weeks to get to The Secret of the Bulls, but he woke me up the next morning with a rave review.
A few months later I surprised my then eighty-year-old father, who didn't know a thing about the novel, with an advance copy of the book. My father didn't know what to do. His knees bent. He sat on a chair. He whispered, "A writer!" And then he stood up, and unbelievably he came to me and hugged me tight, Cuban style, giving me the embrace I had been yearning for all my life.
This is why I know that dreams can come true, because I know they do. It's happened to me. It will happen to you.
Never give your dreams up. Never.
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I happened upon Jose R Bernarno's book while I was looking for something else and it was the best discovery I have made in a long time. I love the beautiful characters and the wonderful places he describes. It is small-town in some ways but in a place I have not ever been and in a time I can only read and hear about and it is beautiful. His prose is poetry in so many ways and learning the ways of another culture and time were so interesting. I was amazed that when the characters in the book were involved in something I might not ever believe was right (for myself}, I found myself understanding because the author builds from the very beginning, the rules of the people and the time it was happening. I loved the imagery of the land and at times almost felt I had been there especially when he described the sparkling colors of the water out the window (in a room where something sad has happened) - I felt his power as a writer in the two separate things I felt in the one scene. I also felt the power and beauty and his use of metaphor with the bulls. It was wonderful. I am anxious now to find his second book. I admire this man's rich use of language.