Day: January 5, 2015
I received a free copy of The Havana Papers by Michael Daly in exchange for an objective review.
In The Havana Papers the writer, a Canadian, travels to Havana with an old portable typewriter and plans to write a novel. When his typewriter is broken during his interrogation by Cuban immigration officials, he’s forced to put his novel on hold. Instead, he explores Habana vieja, the Old City, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In his explorations, he experiences the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the Havana you won’t find on picture postcards, and in the process introduces the reader to a city straining to fit in the 21st century, but still stuck in the 1950s.
The book drags a bit in places, but is filled with humor and colorful descriptions of the denizens of a city that, given the recent move by the American administration to renew diplomatic relations, we might be able to actually go and check out for ourselves. I give this travelogue four stars.
Sacred Striptease takes us through an evening in the life of Lexie (Miss Electra), a stripper who works in a club frequented by mainly working class men stopping for a little entertainment before going home to their families. Told in the first person, the story shows the mental process of a woman who views what she does as art, not for titillation, but for entertainment. Lexie has a strong artistic connection and affection for the men who enjoy watching her perform, but is distressed by the presence of the Creep, a man who views her (in her view) not as a performer, but as a target for exploitation.
A profound treatment of subjects such as self-image, rape, and exploitation, this is a good short read that will entertain as much as Miss Electra’s artistic gyrations do. My only complaint is that the reader is never told why a former ballet dancer such as Lexie (not her real name we’re told) turned to stripping, and while the Creep is introduced and we’re led to believe he exerts a strong influence on Lexie (creating, we believe, a sense of fear and dread in her), he just disappears in the end with no real resolution to the tension, other than a slight surprise at the end, which I will not reveal so those who read the story can discover it for themselves.
Except for these two small weaknesses (in my personal opinion, I must stress), it’s a profoundly entertaining story. I give it four stars.