Audiobooks The Mambo Kings Play Songs of LoveAuthor Oscar Hijuelos –

A plump, juicy, sexy tropical fruit of a novel Its immediately evident why it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize as a matter of fact, it comes from a proud line of family sagas all of them conjoined fatefully with the history of our nation The Castillo Bros castle siblings are the Kings of their music and major purveyors of the Cuban American Zeitgeist Of course, the story is tragicomic sad but not in a completely unfamiliar way Yes, this one seems to have inspired later Pulitzer winners, such as The Stone Diaries , The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay , Oscar Wao the music heavy A Visit from the Goon Squad. Looking at her, Nestor felt faint hearted she was beautiful than the sea, than the morning light, than a wildflower field, and her whole body, agitated and sweaty from her struggles, gave off an aromatic female scent, somewhere between meat and perfume and ocean air, that assailed Nestor s nostrils, sank down into his body like mercury, and twisted in his gut like Cupid s naughty arrow He was so shy that he couldn t look at her any, and she liked this, because men were always looking at her My name is Maria, she told him He is Nestor Castillo, a young man born on a farm and coming to Havana to become a musician, like his big brother Cesar In the big city, he meets a beautiful woman, has a torid love affair with her, and then he loses her While Cesar is a libertine who changes his women often than his shirts, Nestor cannot recover from this first love affair, not even when he goes to New York, like many of his fellow Cuban artists, in the 1950 a at the height of the Mambo Craze in the American nightclubs, not even when he meets another beautiful Cuban immigrant and marries her, not even when, at the height of his succes, he sings with his brother in a Hollywood television programme about the pain of lost love in a melancholic bolero Bella Maria de Mi Alma Nestor remains distant, taciturn, tormented by absences, missing not only Maria, but also the land of his birth and childhood He is transformed into a symbol of the exiled soulHis continuing grief was a monument to gallego melancholy. Like Nestor are most of his compatriots who work on poorly paid day jobs, struggle to raise families and to maintain the spirit of the homeland in an alien landMany of his friends were that way, troubled souls They would always seem happy especially when they d talk about women and music but when they had finished floating through the euphoric layer of their sufferings, they opened their eyes in a world of pure sadness and pain This sadness is in stark contrast with the carnival atmosphere of the dancing halls, but maybe it explains the wild abandon of these people to the rhythms of the mambo, their sentimentality and their readiness to come together in moments of need And in explains why their lives are best expressed trough the music they compose, sing at all hours of the day, dance and even make love to It may also explain the attraction exercised by the African drumbeats, the raw emotions and the joy for life on the restrained and self conscious American audience in the 1950 ssongs written to take the listeners back to the plazas of small towns in Cuba, to Havana, to past moments of courtship and love, passion, and a way of life that was fading from existence His and Nestor s songs were or less typical of the songwriting of that day ballads, boleros, and an infinite variety of fast dance numbers son montunos, guarachas, merengues, guaracha mambos, son pregones The compositions capturing the moments of youthful cockiness A thousand women have I continually satisfied, because I am an amorous man Songs about flirtation, magic, blushing brides, cheating husbands, cuckolds and the cuckolded, flirtatious beauties, humiliation Happy, sad, fast, and slow.And there were songs about torment beyond all sorrows From a structural perspective, the history of the two brother, first in Cuba and later in New York, is told through the songs they composed and sung together with their band The Mambo Kings An elderly Cesar reminisces alone and drunk in a cheap hotel room, listening to old 78 s self printed records, thinking back to the glory days of white silken suits, Panama hats and endless nights of revelry, spicy food, loud music, voluptuous women and companionshipWhat did he have A few pictures from Cuba, a wall filled with autographed pictures, a headful of memories, sometimes scrambled like eggs.Again, he remembers back to long ago and his Papi in Cuba saying, You become a musician, and you ll be a poor man all your life The story is non linear, following Cesar s scrambled train of thought, jumping forward and backward in time, yet the individual snapshots are painstakingly and lovingly expanded, added upon and filled with extravagant minute details by Oscar Hijuelos until they become a panoramic and comprehensive big canvas memorial to the times and the people of Little Havana, to the legacy of a Cuban lifestyle that was disappearing fast under the pressure of revolutionary changes and modern values This generation has lost its sense of elegance exclaims Cesar in 1970, looking at the picture of the dapper young men with immaculate suits and pencil thin moustaches, remembering huge ballrooms with sparkling chandeliers and ladies in evening gowns, sighing over past memories of dainty underwear and high heeled shapely legs Most of all Cesar is missing his brother and his music, the energy and the resilience that he took for granted in his youth He s paying the price now for all those fat cigars and glasses of rum, for the sleepless nights and casual amorous encountershe d lied so often to women over the years, had mistreated and misunderstood so many women, that he had resigned himself to forgetting about love and romance, those very things he used to put in songs I was already a Cubanophile , as one of the followers of the Mambo Kings is described in the book, long before I read the present novel It started, as with many of my contemporaries, courtesy of the Buena Vista Social Club and the likes of Ibrahim Ferrer, Compay Segundo and Ruben Gonzales I was thus already predisposed to enjoy Oscar Hijuelo s history and to look forward to the many tidbits of information and cameo appearances of popular artists from the island and from the American scene The music already spoke to me of the people and of their passion, of their laughter and of their sadness walking hand in hand Hijuelos didn t disappoint, but I think I can understand how another reader may view the baroque extravagance of the descriptive passages, the almost academic essays on the origins, inspiration and style of the songs, the pervasive melancholy of the whole presentation as a drag and as self indulgence on the part of a writer who is unable to get detached enough from his subject I confess that even for me it was not a smooth ride, and the density of the text often put me to sleep after a day at work The chronic depression of the two brothers started to get annoying, especially in the second half of the novel, the one that focuses not on the 1950 s dance craze, but on the later decadence of a once macho man The mistreatment of women may be consistent with the period described, but it weights uncomfortably on the modern reader There are numerous explicit sexual passages, necessary in my opinion to underline the character types, but liable to put stress on the susceptible readers Finally, for a book that claims to be apolitical, Hijuelos, through the mouthpiece of Cesar Castillo, unleashes quite vicious attacks on Castro and his revolutionaries, going so far as to mourn for Batista and to reproduce verbatim several of the most egregious pieces of propaganda circulated by the CIA There are though enough highlights to make me glad I was patient and read through to the end of the book The novel weaves together fact and fiction so well that I had no way to tell which are the real musicians of the era and which are the fictional ones All of them feel alive, ready to stand up and start blowing a trumpet or strumming a guitar, take a turn around the dance floor in the arms of a sultry Latino beauty The very aboundance of the minute details of day to day life that slow down the pacing are the ones that make the experience authentic and memorable The cheap sentimentality and readiness for tears are proof that their hearts are not hardened, cynical and closed to the possibility of loveThe night of the dance, Delores was thinking about what her sister Ana Maria had told her Love is the sunlight of the soul, water for the flowers of the heart, and the sweet scented wind of the morning of life sentiments taken from corny boleros on the radio, but maybe they were true, no matter how cruel and stupid men can be Perhaps there ll be a man who ll be different and good to me I don t know if the famous bolero sung by Nestor and Cesar Castillo exists or not in one of the old mambo recordings, but it echoes still in my mind, almost two months after I finished the book, and I know that I will listen carefully to the lyrics next time I put in one of my own Cuban CD s, thinking of my own youthful disregard for the passage of time and my spendthrift atitude to friends and loversOh, love s sadness,Why did you come to me I was happy before youentered my heart.How can I hate youif I love you so I can t explain my torment,for I don t know how to livewithout your love What delicious painlove has brought to mein the form of a woman.My torment and ecstasy,Maria, my life,Beautiful Maria of my soul P.S I know there is a movie version of the novel, and I plan to find it I m glad I got to read the book first, since I don t think you can condense all the rich material here in only a couple of hours of screen time Yet, I also know of another Cuban movie that is constructed around the music and the 1950 s dance scene that did an excellent job with the subject, and I heartily recommend it Fernando Trueba s animation feature Chico and Rita I cannot BELIEVE this book won a Pulitzer I bought it because of the shiny red cover with the big silver medal looking sticker on the front yes, that is how I judge books The Cuban history living in New York as a Cuban music scene perspective was interesting, but it was overshadowed by the long, long, LONG woe is me sad sack self destructive fatalistic characters who were, for the most part, unlikable and unrelatable, and the pages and pages of sex Not sexy sex DH Lawrence this is not It s like forensic sex There are much better books about Cuban jazz musicians, I m sure, if that s what you re in to I almost never would label a book DO NOT READ , even if I didn t particularly care for it This book is one of the few However, I m apparently one of the only people who feels this way The Pulitzer guys certainly didn t agree with me. DNF So disappointing An extremely engaging six page intro leads into a choppy, entirely sex focused story that fails to develop atmosphere or nostalgia the way the author intends It felt like being stuck at a bar next to an old drunk dude wanting to tell you every detail of his life story how he used to be a musician and slept with just about every chick in NYC at the time Bully for you, guy Can I leave now Amazing Books, The Mambo Kings Play Songs Of Love By Oscar Hijuelos This Is Very Good And Becomes The Main Topic To Read, The Readers Are Very Takjup And Always Take Inspiration From The Contents Of The Book The Mambo Kings Play Songs Of Love, Essay By Oscar Hijuelos Is Now On Our Website And You Can Download It By Register What Are You Waiting For Please Read And Make A Refission For You I guess there was a plot But I think it was all a thinly veiled cover for writing about an old man s penis Seriously Every page includes some reference to this horny old man s sexual escapades It s gross And a little depressing Which isprovocative I guess.EDIT I redacted my initial hatred filled review I might even consider re reading this, from a non sophomoric perspective I was a sopho in high school when I first read this and hated it Like clockwork, highly viscous, graphic coitus every 3 5 pages Give that book The Pulitzer Prize This book is nostalgic, exotic, erotic and narcotic It is a beautiful book and I have returned to it several times and each time I am completely swept up emotionally by it With mere words on a page, the author creates the melodies of the Mambo era, the smells of rural Cuban cane fields, the sweat of a dance hall, the swelter of a New York City summer The two main characters, Cesar and Nestor love in completely different, but totally compelling, ways For Nestor, love is an ideal, out of reach and cause for nothing but pain Cesar loves all of womankind with an unquenchable thirst If Nestor is a Keats poem, Cesar is a Marvin Gaye album I did not find the book sexist as some have claimed , I did find the book unabashedly sensual, as sensual as the music and culture and era in which it celebrates If your greatest erogenous zone is your mind, read The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love If living a life that is drenched in passion and pleasure to it s fullest capacity is a belief you subscribe to, read this book If you enjoy rich storytelling, you will like this book. This Pulitzer winning story of Cesar, the Mambo King, and his Cuban Cuban American family was compelling although the narrative timeline was unnecessarily haphazard The story bounces around a lot Valid criticism has been made of the constant focus on Cesar s penis and sexual conquests Come on now let s move along is what I kept thinking The superficial treatment of women is also a common theme These are the three reasons that I can t rate the book as a masterpiece or at least five stars The third point is hardly unique to this book or many Pulitzer prize winning novels.I won t provide a plot summary here but the fictional panorama that is drawn around Cesar s life and the thematic ties to Cuba and immigration was convincing The feeling of this time long since past lends a magical quality to the story, such that I wished I had seen that period up close The writing was engaging and top notch especially in the broader saga context I definitely was drawn in enough to care about the characters, both the brothers and the nephew I think the Desi Arnaz connection to the brothers felt a little contrived or at least unnecessary I would have liked the book just as much without this tie in.Four stars. The main character in this book is an old guy drinking in a hotel room, and to its credit, I guess the book is a lot like being in a hotel room with an old guy stories from his bygone youth, a few central events repeated again and again in different lights I kept wanting to get up and say Welp, look at the time Gotta go, OK bye , and then a new yarn would begin, and next thing I knew another couple hours hundred pages would be gone, and then eventually the guy dies and the book s over and I could finally leave If you are the kind of reader who really likes to know how the protagonist s dick is doing, this book will be great for you, because there s a dick status update on just about every page Me, I did a lot of eye rolling Names of Cuban musicians and mambos from the 50s are dropped liberally throughout, and I looked up lots of songs from Perez Prado and others that was the best part of the book for me It should come with a soundtrack