Alacrity and Verve!
An atmospheric, richly evocative history of modern Cuba… Mr. Symmes digs like a reporter and writes like a novelist… a personal, meticulous, deeply layered work of narrative journalism… superb… masterly… splendid… brilliantly hued… humorous and wise… luxuriously researched… brings us a ground truth, apolitical in the best sense, with a great depth of vision…” —New York Times
Brilliant… Symmes is a staccato historian, a storyteller… also a superb journalist. A priceless archive of the Cuban diaspora and argument for the importance of the storyteller’s art.” —Washington Post
Searching and beautifully written… generously intoxicated with its subject.” —Boston Globe
An arsenic-laced valentine to the nation of Cuba.” —St. Petersburg Times
Enthralling… Symmes’ expertise and humanity shines through every line to vividly portray a troubled country and its people.” —Big Issue (UK)
Arresting, idiosyncratic, and utterly engaging… Symmes tells the story with alacrity and verve.” —Times of London
Havana! I loved the capital, bitterly and deeply, an unrequited love made possible only by distance and loss. The luminous blue-gray hurricane light. The storm spray that left cars, people, and decaying mansions coated with a white dust of salt. The oily harbor, fuming and ringed with Spanish forts. The blue streak of the Gulf Stream itself, visible from the rooftops every day, a world just beyond. It was “the city where the whole world went to be lied to,” Virginia Piñera said. I found Havana dangerous to body and soul, a high-low environment where you could get arrested for nothing but everyone got away with everything.