Reminiscent of Bukowski and Miller this book is Gutierrez's raunchy, symbolic, semi-autobiographical debut novel of life in 1990s Havana. It is a mosaic of short stories bursting with vivid images of exhilaration, depravity, desire and isolation. Resisting the mass exodus from Cuba of August 1994, Pedro Juan now wanders the streets of Havana indulging himself with women, marijuana and rum. He survives through a series of menial jobs. His rooftop apartment in central Havana has a spectacular Caribbean view but is, like all dwellings in the decaying economy, frequently without water. Prolific, explicit sex scenes reinforce the plight of the artist, and thus a society, limited to physical pleasures where life offers no intellectual or creative rewards. "It's been years since I expected anything, anything at all, of women, or of friends, or even of myself, of anyone." Gutierrez's talent lies in creating a macho, self-abusive protagonist who remains engagingly sympathetic.
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Edition: Paperback (392 pages), 2001.