Scattering the Ashes

Scattering the Ashes

by Maria Del Carmen Boza
     
 

Memoir. The vivid and compassionate story of one woman's- and one family's- struggle to come to terms with the shattering consequences of exile. Highly recommended for the poignancy of its writing and the sensitive portrayal of an often misunderstood community-Gustavo Perez Firmat. SCATTERING THE ASHES is a book about exile, about Cuba and her offspring, and about

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Overview

Memoir. The vivid and compassionate story of one woman's- and one family's- struggle to come to terms with the shattering consequences of exile. Highly recommended for the poignancy of its writing and the sensitive portrayal of an often misunderstood community-Gustavo Perez Firmat. SCATTERING THE ASHES is a book about exile, about Cuba and her offspring, and about the power of history and politics over Cubans' daily lives. Maria del Carmen Boza tells that shared history through the private story of a family living and adapting awkwardly to an alien land, with, according to Howard Norman, unmitigated integrity, beauty, courage and passion. Boza lives in Maine and teaches in the writing workshop at Bates College.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This fictionalized life story of Teresa Urrea, a real woman who came to prominence in the late 1800s as the unofficial saint of the Mexican Revolution, has many of the earmarks of effective fiction: revolution, mysticism, romance, the singular individual life played out against a background of deep social injustice. Sad to say, Domecq's stiff (or stiffly translated) prose undermines her tale, and a framing device in which a present-day scholar obsessed with Teresa makes a pilgrimage to Cabora further robs the narrative of immediacy. The daughter of a servant and a lecherous ranch boss, Teresa exhibits unusual powers and eventually falls into a three-month trance during which she acquires the ability to perform miraculous cures. She gains a following among the poor, and they invoke her name in a revolt against Mexico's oppressive dictator, Porfirio Daz. False rumors of Teresa's involvement in the uprisings spread, and she and her father are imprisoned, then exiled to the U.S. As drawn by Domecq, Teresa's is a life full of paradox and conflict. She is a famed healer powerless to mend the rifts in her own family; a pacifist in whose name blood is shed; a visionary who can't see her way to personal happiness. The problem is that Domecq describes Teresa's inner struggles in dull, uninflected passages that keep her at a distance. This lack of subtlety at critical moments flattens the impact of what could have been a compelling story. (May)
Library Journal
The author (Beyond the Threshold, LJ 7/97), born in Cuba, left with her parents as a child. She now lives in Maine and teaches in the writing workshop at Bates College. Her family lived in Miami with the Cuban exile community, and years later her father committed suicide. She returns to Miami from Maryland for the funeral and begins a rather disjointed memoir of her father, her friends, and herself. The book is divided into four parts; the first, about the wake for her father, is the most interesting. The third part is about the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, where her disappointment and venom for the Kennedys and the CIA come to the fore. As a personal history the book holds some interest, but as history it is obviously one-sided. Not a necessary purchase.George M. Jenks, Bucknell Univ., Lewisburg, PA
Kirkus Reviews
In her first book, Boza, who left Cuba as an exile at the age of six, chronicles how international politics and a rigid anticommunist father turned a smart little girl into a neurotic woman. Bozaþs memoir is written in a hysterical poetic style peppered with references to her use of antidepressants and years of therapy. It deals largely with her relationship with her parents, and the familyþs life in an unhappy exile in Miami. Yet little is revealed about her parentsþ point of view. In Bozaþs eyes, her mother will always be a twit with bad taste, her father a fierce and doctrinaire patriarch. The managing editor of a newspaper in Havana, he was reduced to a low-level reporting job at the Associated Press after he fled to Miami. But his standing in the exile community made him a ministerial candidate in the provisional government that President John F. Kennedy hoped to install in Cuba. It was Kennedyþs betrayal of this provisional government and the volunteers who undertook the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 that triggered Bozaþs fatherþs slow descent into insanity. Deflated by the realization that his familyþs exile was permanent, he lived the rest of his life in angry despair, shouting at the TV news and ranting about the moral decay of the US, an d finally shot himself in the head in 1989. Exploring the events that drove her father crazy, Boza recounts some highlights of Cuban history. But we learn little about her fatherþs own activities in Havana and Miami. Instead, Boza offers readers details on his colon and related medical problems. Distressed that many Cuban exiles who fantasize about the death of Castro aredismissed as obsessive, Boza attempts to shed a more sympathetic light on the Cuban exile community. Instead, she offers evidence that some anti-Castro zealots are more than just a little crazy.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780927534758
Publisher:
Bilingual Review Press (AZ)
Publication date:
01/28/1998
Pages:
387
Product dimensions:
5.54(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.18(d)

What People are saying about this

Gustavo Perez Firmat
"The vivid and compassionate story of one woman's -- and one family's -- struggle to come to terms with the shattering consequences of exile. Highly recommended for the poignancy of its writing and the sensative portrayal of an often misunderstood community." (Gustavo Perez Firmat, author of Next Year in Cuba and Life on the Hyphen)

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