Leapfrog

Leapfrog

by Guillermo Rosales
     
 

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The “prequel” to Rosales’s “tragically beautiful and unforgettable” (Los Angeles Times) Cuban-American novel The Halfway House

Leapfrog depicts one summer in the life of a very poor young boy in post-revolutionary Havana in the late ’50s. He has superhero fantasies, hangs around with the

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Overview

The “prequel” to Rosales’s “tragically beautiful and unforgettable” (Los Angeles Times) Cuban-American novel The Halfway House

Leapfrog depicts one summer in the life of a very poor young boy in post-revolutionary Havana in the late ’50s. He has superhero fantasies, hangs around with the neighborhood kids, smokes cigarettes, tells very lame jokes: “By the way, do you know who died? No. Someone who was alive. Laughter.” The kids fight, discuss the mysteries of religion and sex, and play games — such as leapfrog. So vivid and so very credible, Leapfrog reads as if Rosales had simply transcribed everything that he’d heard or said for this one moving and touching book about a lost childhood.

Leapfrog was a finalist for Cuba’s prestigious Casa de las Americas award in 1968. Years later, Rosales’s sister told The Miami Herald that Rosales felt he hadn’t won the prize because his book lacked sufficient leftist fervor, and that subtle critiques of cruel children and hypocritical adults throughout the playful recollections had clearly “rankled” state officials. In the end the novel never appeared in Cuba. It was first published in Spain in 1994, a year after Rosales’s death.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
11/15/2013
Not exactly a household name, Cuban exile Rosales (1946–93), a schizophrenic who took his own life at 47, left behind only two works, both capably translated by Kushner: The Halfway House (2009) and this earlier collection of five short stories and a novella. The latter, the titular "Leapfrog," relates the adventures of young Agar growing up in 1950s Havana, with a tone shared by older compatriot Reinaldo Arenas. Raised by an abusive father and an indifferent mother, he seeks shelter and acceptance in the West Side Boys gang as he comes to grips with his own manhood and sexuality. The five short stories under the rubric "The Magic Still" are thematically and stylistically diverse. The first two ("The Devil and the Nun," dealing with the vocational quandary of a nun, and "An Axe to the Sideburns," a tale of aborted vengeance) fare best in providing an ironic twist at the end. The longer "The Phantom Bunker" is a political satire of Castro's Cuba with a touch of Jorge Luis Borges thrown in. VERDICT An entertaining smorgasbord by an unsung voice in Hispanic letters.—Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, OH
The Miami Herald
“Rosales’s writing remains as relevant as ever.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780811223270
Publisher:
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date:
10/22/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
144
File size:
463 KB

Meet the Author

Guillermo Rosales (b. Cuba 1946 – d. Miami, 1993) grew up in revolutionary Cuba where his father served in Cuba’s diplomatic corps. He became a journalist and then a promising novelist. Yet, his work was denounced as “morose, pornographic,and irreverent” by the Communist Party, which led to his first nervous breakdown. Forced to leave the country for Miami, he suffered from schizophrenia, was in and out of psychiatric wards, then tragically, after destroying most of his unpublished manuscripts, shot himself at age 47.
Anna Kushner was born in Philadelphia and first traveled to Cuba in 1999. Beside her “commanding translation” (Words Without Borders) of The Halfway House (ND, 2009), her writing and translations have appeared in numerous other print and web publications.

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