Dirty Havana Trilogy – Review

Publisher’s Weekly labels it a cross between charles bukowski and henry miller. While there is certainly a large element of raunch through the first two sections of the trilogy (and still enough for a good romance novel in the third) it’s not as good as either of the two it’s a supposed hybrid of.

Still, the raunch turns out to be the second most interesting thing about the book. the first is the format. The first section is a series of short, first person accounts from Pedro Juan, our hero of the work, as he tries to survive with a litany of scavanged and possibly illegal jobs on the street, just trying to keep food on the table, and then his relentless pursuit to fuck whatever woman he can, wherever he can, whenever he can. This isn’t to say the guy is a womanizer. His conquests are not exactly reluctant. They aren’t so much conquests as two people coming together with a similar goal in mind and happening to find someone to help them get there. It is sex of desperation. No one has much of anything, life is miserable for everyone, and everyone just wants something to get helm them through the day – which is sex.

the second part has a slightly older pedro juan, a slower pace and more laid back life. he finally settles in with a woman from his apartment building named isabelle who prostitutes herself for money while Pedro Juan continues to do whatever he can to make a buck or two (literally, as they favor earning a buck or two over numberless pesos).

Finally, the third section moves away from Pedro Juan and tells the stories of the people around Pedro Juan that we have glimpsed throughout the first two sections. We learn that Pedro Juan’s observations are not always entirely correct and many of the people surrounding him live much sadder and more desperate lives than even he imagines.

Throughout the book, Gutierrez gives his characters a thirst for life and independence within the Cuban dictatorialship that is commendable. The life he portrays, of the average person just trying to get by and mitigate their misery as well as possible while the State operates around them, is a touching portrait of the terminally poor in Cuba.

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