Santa Rita Stories

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Coming of Age in a Cuban Fishing Town

Welcome to Santa Rita, a Cuban fishing town populated by a colorful cast of saints and sinners, con men and fishermen, athletes and hunchbacks, politicians and priests...where everyone eventually knows everyone else’s business and the collective memory reaches backward for generations. To help him unravel the deeply rooted traditions and gossip of this tropical melting pot, fifteen-year-old Carlos turns ...
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Santa Rita Stories

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Coming of Age in a Cuban Fishing Town

Welcome to Santa Rita, a Cuban fishing town populated by a colorful cast of saints and sinners, con men and fishermen, athletes and hunchbacks, politicians and priests...where everyone eventually knows everyone else’s business and the collective memory reaches backward for generations. To help him unravel the deeply rooted traditions and gossip of this tropical melting pot, fifteen-year-old Carlos turns often to his friend Pedro, a foul-smelling, cigar-chomping vagrant who lives on the docks and is affectionately known as el Viejo—the Old Man. In the course of ten linked stories, Andy Rodriguez brings to vivid life the rhythms of daily life in mid-1950’s Cuba, and the transition from Carlos’s carefree, nurturing childhood to his awakening to the responsibilities—and possibilities—of young manhood. Carlos resists authority; but he can’t resist Pedro’s wisdom as the Old Man dispenses advice about everything from the proper method of romantic kissing, to how to avoid judging a book by its cover—dramatized by a tale of Ernest Hemingway and an encounter with a Nazi spy. By the final story, just as Carlos longs to escape the restrictions of a small town and spread his wings in the big city of Havana, we also long, right along with him, to linger forever in the magical, love-filled world of Santa Rita.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A collection of short stories centering on a young boy coming of age in a small fishing community during the mid-1950s in pre-Castro Cuba.In 10 linked stories, Rodriguez charmingly conjures life in Santa Rita, a coastal town in Cuba, before Castro's revolution. The townspeople are seen mainly through the eyes of Carlos, a young boy growing up surrounded by his colorful neighbors. Chief among them is Pedro, a homeless man who makes the wharf his home and who relates to a wide-eyed Carlos the rich history of their town. As such, the collection encompasses Santa Rita's past and present. Pedro's own story is a fascinating one as he narrates his youthful love for a young woman far above his station. A man of many accomplishments, he also tells Carlos about his adventure transporting aid via train to a nearby village hit hard by a hurricane and of his meeting with Ernest Hemingway during World War II, when the famous American writer and his "hooligan navy" kept watch for German U-boats hoping to sink freighters off the coast of Cuba. Carlos is featured in several stories as well, including two about his relationship with Veronica, a beautiful Jewish girl. The collection ends with Carlos' leaving for a high school education in Havana and his emotional farewell with Pedro, a man straight out of Steinbeck's Cannery Row and who provides the book's true beating heart. Pedro's stories read like tall tales, whereas Carlos' have their roots in timeless stories about youth, like Booth Tarkington's Penrod and F. Scott Fitzgerald's Basil and Josephine Stories. Rodriguez wonderfully evokes the '50s with references to The Old Man and The Sea, This is Cinerama and Argentinean Grand Prix champion Juan Manuel Fangio. His only flaw is in too often adding unnecessary buttons in the forms of lessons or morals at the ends of his stories.Sure to transport readers to another place and time.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781478736981
  • Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/11/2014
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,136,416
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew J. Rodriguez is a student of the human condition who views the writer's craft as a means to enrapture the mind and touch the heart. "Santa Rita Stories"
is his fifth book following "Helen's Treasure: Odyssey of a Ladies' Man," "The
Incredible Adventures of Enrique Diaz," a finalist for both the Book of the Year
Award sponsored by Foreword Magazine and the Best Books Award sponsored by USA
Book News. His second book, "Adios, Havana: A Memoir," won the prestigious
Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Award in 2005, as well as the
Allbooks Reviews Editor's Choice Award. His first novel, the highly acclaimed
"The Teleportation of an American Teenager, is a time-travel adventure that moves from Mongolia to Medieval Venice along the fabled Silk Road. The author and his wife live in Colorado and Florida.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 10, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    ¿Coming of Age¿ takes on a unique meaning in this tale, as a you

    ‘Coming of Age’ takes on a unique meaning in this tale, as a young man learns from, basically, the town ‘gossip,’ about various stories regarding the residents of the small village he calls home.

    Right off the bat the reader meets a truly unforgettable character. His name is Pedro, but he is referred to as ‘Old Man.’ Pedro is a homeless person who wanders the docks in the Cuban fishing village of Santa Rita. He is ripe with scent, and he is one of those storytellers who definitely uses the facts and weaves them expertly with his words of wisdom in order to help teach young Carlos about life.

    Pedro, the Old Man, weaves ten tales. He begins with the story of a man named Don Patricio Mayor – a poor immigrant who became a nobleman. Of course, to accomplish this feat, Mayor didn’t always do the right thing. Mayor began as a personal assistant when he was young working for a boss named Juan de Dios. This job introduced Mayor to a world of lies and thievery. However, when a fight occurred between the two men, it took years for them to meet up again. And, when they did, Mayor was the boss. He hired Juan to act as a ‘thug’ to round up debts in Santa Rita. But Juan is still the ultimate liar and when he falls ill, Juan decides to make a mockery of the town, as well as his old assistant by using lies to convince the Church that he is basically a Saint. This is one tale that teaches a true lesson about how looks can definitely deceive.

    Each and every tale that comes from Old Man Pedro teaches a lesson to Carlos. Whether it be the completely wrong lesson is up to the boy (and readers) to decide. As the story moves forward, we see Carlos deal with many things that occur in real life; from his first kiss to dealing with a bully to his debate and wonder over sex. Carlos defies authority, yet tries to keep his morals and values intact. And while doing all this, he comes to make a lifelong friend.

    This author offers up entertainment, fun, sadness and thought. This is a book that teaches a great deal to any age group that reads it. The “Human Condition” is spoken about by many, but as technology grows and as temptation increases, everything can alter peoples’ minds as they attempt to adjust to a far different world, while keeping their faith and self-respect.

    Carlos reminds people of their own battles; and the ‘Old Man’ is most definitely that familiar character for anyone who grew up in a small town where everyone from the con men to the saints to the church ladies to the local librarian always knew exactly what you were doing. Although the freedom was lacking there, the support was easy to feel. A small town is a family with both good and bad members – the foundation that never moved, as you did your best to grow up. And this particular author shows every corner of that foundation, even the ‘cracks’ in the marble pillars of society.

    Quill says: Outstanding work that offers depth without burying the kindness, humor, and variety of life.

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