Published in 2013: Cuba is a fascinating country that I had the opportunity to visit a number of times. It is hard not to be enchanted by its people and their stories. The book is a late-in-life coming out story about a man stuck in a routine marriage and an unremarkable career as a professor of Latin American Studies at a small California college. In a last ditch effort to save himself from the ennui of mid life, Martin heads to Cuba on sabbatical to write a book about Cuban icon, Jose Marti. With the confusing mores of modern Cuba on one side and his personal demons on the other, he meets a charismatic young artist, who leads him down a road of passion and sexual awakening. As the professor struggles with his newfound sexuality, his Cuban friend sees a way to escape the dusty streets of his marginal barrio thanks to his considerable charm and good looks. The story is set against the harsh reality of modern day life on the Caribbean island.
Excerpts from the book: “I had fled the country and swore I’d never go back. Yet three years later, I was on Havana’s seaside walk, the Malecón, where the island had first captured me in its delicate but inescapable web. On one side of me was a low wall that held back the choppy sea, and on the other a multi-laned drive where old cars, kept together by will and ingenuity rather than genuine spare parts, bumped over potholes with a thump and rattle.”
“His gravelly voice was funny. Sometimes it was very low, but when he got excited it jumped up into a squeaky high range. His eyes, though hardly open more than slits, held me. I was hypnotized by the movement of the crowd around me, the rum, and Leonardo’s penetrating stare. I leaned back against the wall and he had his arm around my shoulders again. I closed my eyes, listening to the sound of voices, the faint lapping of the sea behind the wall, but louder than all of it was his whisper in my ear, ‘Tranquilo.’ ”
Down in Cuba is available in print and Kindle formats: https://www.amazon.com/Down-Cuba-Vincent-Meis/dp/0615812201/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1469033343&sr=1-1
Winner of two Rainbow Awards: http://reviews-and-ramblings.dreamwidth.org/4393153.html