FREE READ · Havana A Subtropical Delirium

Mark Kurlansky ¾ 1 FREE READ

Award winning author Mark Kurlansky presents an insider's view of Havana the elegant tattered city he has come to know over than thirty years Part cultural history part travelogue with recipes historic engravings photographs and Kurlansky's own pen and ink drawings throughout Havana celebrates the city's singular music literature baseball and food; its five centuries of outstanding neglected architecture; and its extraordinary blend of culturesLike all great citie I have never been to Havana the closest I have gotten is San Juan Puerto Rico which I loved but which the author makes clear is a poor substitution for Havana This was just enough of a biography of a city that has been remade several times over though some things always stay the same the city has been through many upheavals The Spanish a pirate's paradise the Americans and the mob the storms that have ravaged the city the fires set that have burned it down but always it rises againThe food the culture slavery the mix of people the mulattas the music the food narrow streets the architecture and the dirt and grime Hemingway is revered here this was the place he made his longest home drank in the bars ate in the restaurants The revolution Castro and the things that changed Interesting trivia Hemingway hated sugar and Castro loved ice cream Havana seems to be a city of its own own vibes its own atmosphere its own smells Beliefs all the different beliefs combined mix and match Santeria from the African influence so many blends of cultures here uite fascinatingLoved the writing style but this is in no way a in depth study of the city but just enough for me learned uite a bit and was entertained by this city I will probably never visit Could uite literally not take the heat and of course the sweat that permeates the air covers the people I do not find enticing The city though I find extremely interesting in thought only of course and I enjoyed the drawing pictures and recipes that were included Dance Band on the Titanic literature baseball and food; its five centuries of outstanding neglected architecture; and its extraordinary blend of culturesLike all great citie I have never been to Havana the closest I have gotten is San Juan Puerto Rico which I Chroma: A Photographer's Guide to Lighting With Color loved but which the author makes clear is a poor substitution for Havana This was just enough of a biography of a city that has been remade several times over though some things always stay the same the city has been through many upheavals The Spanish a pirate's paradise the Americans and the mob the storms that have ravaged the city the fires set that have burned it down but always it rises againThe food the culture slavery the mix of people the mulattas the music the food narrow streets the architecture and the dirt and grime Hemingway is revered here this was the place he made his The Hokku or Epigram Versus of Basho longest home drank in the bars ate in the restaurants The revolution Castro and the things that changed Interesting trivia Hemingway hated sugar and Castro Spank! loved ice cream Havana seems to be a city of its own own vibes its own atmosphere its own smells Beliefs all the different beliefs combined mix and match Santeria from the African influence so many blends of cultures here uite fascinatingLoved the writing style but this is in no way a in depth study of the city but just enough for me Prison Ramen learned uite a bit and was entertained by this city I will probably never visit Could uite Saints and Misfits literally not take the heat and of course the sweat that permeates the air covers the people I do not find enticing The city though I find extremely interesting in thought only of course and I enjoyed the drawing pictures and recipes that were included

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Havana A Subtropical Delirium

S Havana has a rich history that informs the vibrant place it is today from the native Taino to Columbus's landing from Cuba's status as a US protectorate to Batista's dictatorship and Castro's revolution from Soviet presence to the welcoming of capitalist tourism Havana is a place of extremes a beautifully restored colonial city whose cobblestone streets pass through areas that have not been painted or repaired since the revolutionKurlansky shows Havana through t Havana is not a city for people who are sueamish about sweat Sweat is one of the many defining smells in redolent Havana and is a leitmotif in almost all Havana literatureIf you are familiar with Kurlansky's other non fiction for instance Cod A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World or Salt A World History imagine the same thorough look at a singular subject applied to the city of Havana Mark Kurlansky has visited Cuba for decades and has a great love for the city of HavanaHe examines history architecture politics trade especially ports food music and literature Throughout the book he references characters or stories from Cuban literature which I liked At the end is an extensive bibliography of reading both fiction and non fiction Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy through NetGalley

CHARACTERS Havana A Subtropical Delirium

He eyes of Cuban writers such as Alejo Carpentier and José Martí and foreigners including Graham Greene and Hemingway He introduces us to Cuban baseball and its highly opinionated fans; the city's music scene alive with the rhythm of Son; its culinary legacy Once the only country Americans couldn't visit Cuba is now opening to us as is Havana not only by plane or boat but also through Mark Kurlansky's multilayered and electrifying portrait of the long elusive ci I have been to Cuba twice and can hardly recognize the place that Mark Kurlansky describesThe boring and expensive food Chicken pork or shrimp with rice and black beans No vegetables and no seasoning All because way too much farmland were used for growing sugarcaneAnd the staterun hotels where you had to see two or three rooms before you found one where the WC and the shower both worked


10 thoughts on “Havana A Subtropical Delirium

  1. says:

    I have never been to Havana the closest I have gotten is San Juan Puerto Rico which I loved but which the author makes clear is a poor substitution for Havana This was just enough of a biography of a city that has been remade several times over though some things always stay the same the city has been through many upheavals The Spanish a pirate's paradise the Americans and the mob the storms that have ravaged the city the fires set that have burned it down but always it rises againThe food the culture slavery the mix of people the mulattas the music the food narrow streets the architecture and the dirt and grime Hemingway is revered here this was the place he made his longest home drank in the bars ate in the restaurants The revolution Castro and the things that changed Interesting trivia Hemingway hated sugar and Castro loved ice cream Havana seems to be a city of its own own vibes its own atmosphere its own smells Beliefs all the different beliefs combined mix and match Santeria from the African influence so many blends of cultures here uite fascinatingLoved the writing style but this is in no way a in depth study of the city but just enough for me learned uite a bit and was entertained by this city I will probably never visit Could uite literally not take the heat and of course the sweat that permeates the air covers the people I do not find enticing The city though I find extremely interesting in thought only of course and I enjoyed the drawing pictures and recipes that were included


  2. says:

    I've been to Cuba many times on holidays to warm my bones and get away from the cold Canadian winter for a few days These were mostly resort vacations on Cuba's beautiful beaches uite a few years ago a childhood friend and I were marking a common big birthday and we decided to spend a week in Havana which was a different vacation altogether We explored the neighbourhoods we visited museums monuments and the famed cemetery we spent time on a beach with locals and we happened upon a huge political demonstration I don't speak Spanish but my friend speaks Spanish so we also had an opportunity to have some interesting conversations with a few residents of Havana for example our female taxi driver who was a trained engineer but made money driving taxis and a journalist who gave us some insight into the challenges of reporting in Cuba I came away amazed at this complex city with its beautiful crumbling old buildings and complex economic and social layers And I felt like I only touched the tip of the iceberg Havana written by Mark Kurlansky who also wrote Salt and Cod was a great companion to my trip In this relatively short book Kurlansky surveys Havana's history including the history of its slave trade years of wealth and political turmoil and recent revolution He explores issues of race and gender He delves into Havana's literary religious architectural and musical histories He explores Africa's influence on Havana and the Spanish spoken in Cuba And much Every topic is explored briefly so there isn't much room for depth but there's enough information to make it interesting He also approaches Havana from a seemingly politically neutral position neither condemning nor romanticizing contemporary Havana but rather seeing some positive and some negative Unusually for an American Kurlansky appears to have traveled to Havana regularly since the early 1980s and his book is informed by research and his own observations and experiences Ultimately Havana feels like an ode to a complex flawed but much loved city I really enjoyed it given my own experience there but I'm not sure how meaningful it would be to anyone who has not been to Havana or who doesn't plan to travel there Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy


  3. says:

    Havana A Subtropical Delerium was a beautiful book by Mark Kurlansky a journalist for thirty five plus years much of that time spent in the Caribbean as a foreign correspondent This book focuses on the historic colonial city of Havana throughout its rich and colorful history from the early 1500's when the Spanish conuistadors developing it as a world class port throughout its history with Batista and Castro Each chapter features wonderful passages from Cuban writers as well as Kurlansky's own beautiful and illustrative pen and ink drawings to enhance the narrative He talks about Columbian writers as Gabriel Garcia Maruez and features Latin American and Cuban writers such as Abilio Estevez Jose Marti Cirilo Villaverde Cecelia Valdes and Jose Lezama Lima featuring the epigraphs for each chapter Graham Greene's Our Man in Havana is freuently referenced too It needs to be mentioned that Ernest Hemingway drawn to deep sea fishing spent a lot of time in Havana and he is one of their favorites actually magical in how they revere him After all Ernest Hemingway spent thirty plus years in HavanaCuba has long been on my list of places to go There was a short window when Barack Obama was president but that opening of diplomatic relations between President Obama and Raul Castro has been shut down by the Trump administration but I still hope Meanwhile the book also has delightful recipes for everything from the perfect Mojito to picadillo to a variety of flavors of ice cream some Fidel Castro's favorites But we also have the delightful Havana and Cuban music that is son and said to have consumed the daily life of Havana as it pulses through the life of this city The Malecon completely changed Havana's perspective Until its construction Havana was a city on the bay Once the Malecon was built Habaneros turned their heads from the bay to the ocean Havana became a city on the sea on the Atlantic the Straits facing the Gulf Stream the city to which Hemingway was drawn The Malecon is still a favorite spot the place to go fishing the place for lovers to walk along while listening to a rumbling sea or to embrace in the shadows the place to pick out a tune on the guitar at night the only place with Atlantic breezes on a relentlessly broiling day the place to cool off at nighttime the place to take refuge behind the endless columns of the buildings along the boulevard the place to face the sea where the ocean runs a bit wild and whitecaps lap and splash over the edge of the road It was thrilling to dive past the waves


  4. says:

    Havana is not a city for people who are sueamish about sweat Sweat is one of the many defining smells in redolent Havana and is a leitmotif in almost all Havana literatureIf you are familiar with Kurlansky's other non fiction for instance Cod A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World or Salt A World History imagine the same thorough look at a singular subject applied to the city of Havana Mark Kurlansky has visited Cuba for decades and has a great love for the city of HavanaHe examines history architecture politics trade especially ports food music and literature Throughout the book he references characters or stories from Cuban literature which I liked At the end is an extensive bibliography of reading both fiction and non fiction Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy through NetGalley


  5. says:

    Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcentercom I am the original author of this essay as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegallyAlthough I enjoyed Mark Kurlansky's newest nonfiction book Havana I don't actually have a lot to say about it simply because there's not much to it in the first place; not exactly a travel guide to this capital of Cuba not exactly a history and not exactly a memoir it's instead a curious mix of them all what you might call a biographical sketch of a city in the spirit of Peter Ackroyd's London As such then it makes for pleasant surface level reading a book that has a general theme per chapter but then spits out random factoids within each of these chapters full of interesting trivia did you know that the Sloppy Joe sandwich was invented in Cuba? but that never really digs down into a deeper or meaningful look at this fascinating complicated city With the Obamian normalization of relations between the US and Cuba now has never been a better time to read a light but engaging book like this one that will give most Americans their first look at this most curious of Caribbean destinations; hopefully it will serve to whet your appetite for Out of 10 85


  6. says:

    With the normalization of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States the easing of travel restrictions to the island and the death of Fidel Castro last year Americans will have the opportunity to visit this gem of the Caribbean soon assuming the Trump administration doesn't decide to muck it all up But large numbers of Americans have not visited the island in over 50 years So what will they experience when they arrive? This book written by a former foreign correspondent in Havana for the Chicago Tribune not only gives people a sense of the history of the capital city Havana but of the people who have lived there in good times and bad Starting with the founding of the city by Spanish colonists in the 16th century Mr Kurlansky takes readers on a voyage through 400 years of Havana history and culture While following a broadly chronological order the book also jumps from topic to topic as they crop up It is a nearly flawless meshing of two different narrative methods of organization and I love it But one of the greatest things Mr Kurlansky does is root his history in the culture and struggles of the local people the Habaneros as they call themselvesOne of the best examples of this is how Mr Kurlansky peppers his narrative with the Habaneros' dark sense of humor much of which is laugh out loud hysterical One example that I can't pass up comes from the end of the book view spoiler In chapter 12 Mr Kurlansky discusses Habaneros' preoccupation with martyrdom Nothing moves a Habaneros uite like a martyr for the cause according to Mr Kurlansky Just when he was riding high though Eddy El Loco Chibás made a mistake by railing against an alleged incident of corruption that seemed false it seemed that Chibás had been misinformed He started to lose his credibility This being Havana it was time to consider martyrdom for the cause At the end of his next broadcast on August 5 1951 Chibas announced 'This is my last call' a declaration often mockingly repeated for months in the heartless humor of Havana Then he took out a32 caliber revolver and shot himself in the stomach a slow and painful way to die The final pronouncement the shot fired the body thumping onto the table by the microphone it was all supposed to be a dramatic message for his listeners Except that as Cabrera Infante said 'being a true Cuban politician' Chibás talked beyond his allotted time and during the whole grand finale the station cut to a coffee commercial hide spoiler


  7. says:

    The book is all about Havana and its peoplecuisinebuildings and all that one can think ofRight from the beginning to the current stateeverything is described very wellBut there are no photographs of the place for which I am docking a starOtherwiseits a book for all readers interested in Havanathe capital of Cuba


  8. says:

    I have been to Cuba twice and can hardly recognize the place that Mark Kurlansky describesThe boring and expensive food Chicken pork or shrimp with rice and black beans No vegetables and no seasoning All because way too much farmland were used for growing sugarcaneAnd the staterun hotels where you had to see two or three rooms before you found one where the WC and the shower both worked


  9. says:

    I gave it a three because I felt it was a bit uneven Some parts were really good and some not so much The book is a very broad overview of Cuba's history to current situation with random facts through out I'm going to Cuba next month so it was a worthwhile read for me


  10. says:

    Such a well written book and just what I needed after reading a book set in Havana and needing to know Kurlansky's writing style is extremely engaging; it's conversational and witty while still being informative and often lyrical Although at times I wanted of the politics or history the book captures the place well I'd imagine for such a short book that spans so much time What's a place is than just its politics of course it's the people the food the arts the baseball the spirit Recipes lyrics jokes etc fill the pages of Havana here Kurlansky seems to capture this place at full view by not just describing the location but also depicting its people Although I would be curious to see how a Cuban or Habanero would read the book Overall though I learned a lot and really couldn't put the book down


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