Ay, Cuba!: A Socio-Erotic Journey

Open Road Media
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The NPR reporter offers an “engaging and enlightening” window into late-90s Cuba, “from the cafes in Havana to the mysterious lairs of Santiago de Cuba” (Kirkus Reviews).

For NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu, reporting from Cuba on the eve of Pope John Paul II’s 1998 visit was an opportunity to understand the realities of life in a country that has long been the subject of stereotypes and misconceptions. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba was the last place to witness a “laboratory of pre-post-communism,” as it toed the line between its socialist past and its uncertain future.
 
On the streets of Havana and the beaches of Santiago de Cuba, Codrescu met people from all walks of life—from prostitutes and fortunetellers to bureaucrats and writers—eager to share their stories. Uncensored and compassionate, his interviews reveal a world where destruction and beauty, poverty and pride exist side by side. Traveling with photographer David Graham, whose powerful images illustrate the energy pulsing through everyday life in Cuba, Codrescu captures the humanity of a nation that is lost when it’s reduced to a political symbol. With the United States resuming relations with Cuba for the first time in decades, Ay, Cuba! is more relevant now than ever before.  
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About the author

ANDREI CODRESCU (www.codrescu.com) is the editor of Exquisite Corpse: A Journal of Books & Ideas (www.corpse.org). Born in Romania, Codrescu immigrated to the United States in 1966. His first collection of poetry, License to Carry a Gun (1970), won the Big Table Younger Poets Award, and his latest, So Recently Rent a World: New and Selected Poems: 1968–2012 (2012), was a National Book Award finalist. He is the author of the novels The Blood Countess, Messi@, Casanova in Bohemia, and Wakefield. His other titles include Zombification: Essays from NPR; The Disappearance of the Outside: A Manifesto for EscapeNew Orleans, Mon Amour; The Hole in the Flag: A Romanian Exile’s Story of Return and Revolution; Ay, Cuba!: A Socio-Erotic JourneyThe Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara and Lenin Play ChessWhatever Gets You through the Night: A Story of Sheherezade and the Arabian EntertainmentsThe Poetry Lesson; and Bibliodeath: My Archives (With Life in Footnotes).

Codrescu is the recipient of an ACLU Freedom of Speech Award, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship for poetry, and the Peabody Award for the movie Road Scholar. Until retiring in 2009, he was the MacCurdy Distinguished Professor of English at Louisiana State University.
 
DAVID GRAHAM (b. 1952) is a photographer known for his exploration of contemporary American culture and landscape. His work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and has been published in the New York Times Magazine, Fortune, Forbes, and Details. He lives in Pennsylvania and is a professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Open Road Media
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Published on
May 19, 2015
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Pages
210
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ISBN
9781504017992
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Caribbean & West Indies / Cuba
Travel / Caribbean & West Indies
Travel / Essays & Travelogues
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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A “lovely collection” of essays by the NPR commentator about his beloved adopted city, both before and after Hurricane Katrina (Publishers Weekly).
 
NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu has long written about the unique city he calls home. How apt that a refugee born in Transylvania found his place where vampires roam the streets and voodoo queens live around the corner; where cemeteries are the most popular picnic spots; the ghosts of poets, prostitutes, and pirates are palpable; and in the French Quarter, no one ever sleeps.
 
Codrescu’s essays have been called “satirical gems,” “subversive,” “funny,” “gonzo,” and “wittily poignant”—here is a writer who perfectly mirrors the wild, voluptuous character of New Orleans itself. This retrospective follows him from newcomer to near native: first seduced by the lush banana trees in his backyard and the sensual aroma of coffee at the café down the block, Codrescu soon becomes a Window Gang regular at the infamous bar Molly’s on Decatur; does a stint as King of Krewe de Vieux Carré at Mardi Gras; befriends artists, musicians, and eccentrics; and exposes the city’s underbelly of corruption, warning presciently about the lack of planning for floods in a city high on its own insouciance. Alas, as we all now know, Paradise is lost, but here Codrescu also writes about how the city’s heart still beats even after 2005’s devastating hurricane.
 
New Orleans, Mon Amour is a portrait of an incomparable place, from a writer who “manages to be brilliant and insightful, tough and seductive about American culture” (The New York Times Book Review).
 
“Finely honed portraits of a fabled city and its equally fabled inhabitants. The author, who has called the Big Easy home for two decades, shows how, like some gigantic bohemian magnet, New Orleans attracts some of the world’s most talented, self-indulgent freaks. Codrescu finds himself quite at home there. He expertly weaves pages of New Orleans history through his stories of personal discovery and debauchery. . . . Readers can’t help coming away from reading it without an abiding hope in the ability of ordinary people, under the worst circumstances, rising to whatever challenges they face.” —Publishers Weekly
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