Read Selected from the Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos Free Online
Book Title: Selected from the Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love|
The author of the book: Oscar Hijuelos
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 390 KB
Edition: Signal Hill Publications
Date of issue: September 1st 1996
ISBN 13: 9780929631530
Read full description of the books Selected from the Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love:As the weather heats up it is easy to envision oneself on a beach with a rum and Coke in hand. The preferred beverage in Cuba before Castro's take over, rum invokes images of Havana as a city teeming with night life and rivaling Miami as the gateway to Latin America. It is with this sensuous imagery at hand that I selected Oscar Hijuelos' Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love as the next book in my ongoing Pulitzer challenge. The first Hispanic to win the award, Hijuelos' steamy book transports its readers back to a classy time when Mambo and its musicians were indeed Kings.
Brothers Cesar and Nestor Castillo hailed from the Oriente province of Cuba. From the simple peasant class, neither had much of a future, especially with a demanding father who expected them to stay on the farm. One day Cesar heard a local band leader practicing, demanded lessons, and the rest is history. Soon, Cesar played his way out of Oriente to Santiago, Havana, and eventually New York. Regarded as a top band leader alongside Nestor, a gifted trumpet player, the brothers founded the Mambo Kings band and catapulted to the top of the Latin music circuit in New York during the late 1940s.
Leaving Cuba even before the revolution was not without its share of anguish. Cesar epitomized Hispanic machismo culture and bedded one woman after another. He tried his hand at marriage but grew restless, and his wife divorced him, forcing him to leave his daughter Mariela behind on the island. Nestor did not share his brother's cockiness. A introvert and brooding man, he fell for a pretty girl named Maria and engaged in a long affair with her, only to see her marry another man. Nestor never got over this heartbreak, even after marrying his wife Dolores in New York and having two children, Eugenio and Leticia. This torment the brothers felt lead them to write their one hit song-- Dulce Maria de mi Alma [Beautiful Maria of my Soul] that nearly lead them to stardom.
A chance meeting with Cuban star Desi Arnaz lead the brothers to perform Dulce Maria de mi Alma on the I Love Lucy Show. At the time, especially as Castro continued to gain power in Cuba, all Cubans living in the United States stuck close together, even Arnaz who had made it big as a Hollywood star. After this performance, Cesar dwelt on this episode for the rest of his life, reminiscing on his one shining moment and reminding all of his friends and acquaintances that he is the famous Mambo Kings who once performed with Desi Arnaz. Nestor tragically passed away a few years later leaving behind a young family, but Cesar continued to look fondly at this experience on television for better or worse.
Hijuelos writes this poignant tale as a two sided record complete with coda. He tells Cesar's story in flashback as both Cesar and his nephew Eugenio look back at a time when Cesar was the Mambo King of New York. In addition to leading a band, Cesar worked a full time day job to support himself and his sister-in-law and her family as well as his friends and musicians and a myriad of Cubans just off the boat. Cesar also oozed machismo until his dying day, bedding one woman after another in true Latin lover form. The prose dripped of sensuous love mixed with pain, of both love lost and the schism of Cubans in the United States and the island following the revolution. As I read this tale of lust and heartbreak, I kept singing Cuban hits such as Guantamera in my mind, setting Cesar Castillo's conflicted life to music. The Mambo King will be long remembered by me as I felt a twinge of sympathy for this man who could not relate to women except in bed while leading a conflicted life.
With luscious writing that is could also be construed as an homage to his native Cuba, Hijuelos has merited the Pulitzer for his poignant tale. A story of immigrants who brushed with fame, were scorned by love, and maintained their machismo Cuban culture throughout their lives, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love is a scintillating tale. I had previously read Hijuelos' The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien and as before was enamored by his writing. A worthy torch bearer as being the first Hispanic authored book to earn the Pulitzer, Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love is a jewel of a book for me at 4.5 sparkling stars.
Read information about the authorOscar Hijuelos (born August 24, 1951) is an American novelist. He is the first Hispanic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Hijuelos was born in New York City, in Morningside Heights, Manhattan, to Cuban immigrant parents. He attended the Corpus Christi School, public schools, and later attended Bronx Community College, Lehman College, and Manhattan Community College before matriculating into and studying writing at the City College of New York (B.A., 1975; M.A. in Creative Writing, 1976). He then practiced various professions before taking up writing full time. His first novel, Our House in the Last World, was published in 1983 and received the 1985 Rome Prize, awarded by the American Academy in Rome. His second novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, received the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It was adapted for the film The Mambo Kings in 1992 and as a Broadway musical in 2005.
Hijuelos has taught at Hofstra University and is currently affiliated with Duke University, where he is a member of the faculty of the Department of English.
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