The world changed while I slept, and much to my surprise, no one had consulted me. That's how it would always be from that day forward. Of course, that's the way it had been all along, I just didn't know it until that morning. Surprise upon surprise: some good, some evil, most somewhere in between. And always without my consent.
I was barely eight years old, and I had spent hours dreaming of childish things, as children do. My father, who vividly remembered his prior life as King Louis XVI of France, probably dreamt of costume balls, mobs, and guillotines. My mother, who had no memory of having been Marie Antoinette, couldn't have shared in his dreams. Maybe she dreamt of hibiscus blossoms and fine silk. Maybe she dreamt of angels, as she always encouraged me to do.
"Suena con los angelitos," she would say: dream of little angels. The fact that they were little meant that they were too cute to be fallen angels.
Devils can never be cute.
So beginsWaiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy. I loved this book. It was smart, funny, sad, disturbing: everything you would expect of a memoir by a man who fled Cuba as a child, after the revolution turned his family's world upside down, but much more. Eire is a talented, insightful writer. Eire had a front seat for the major transformational moment of his country's history, but he viewed it with a child's eyes, which makes for interesting contrasts in the narrative. His adult self can look back with an understanding of the horrors that were occurring, while his child self enjoyed the excitement of living through things that seemed like movies he loved watching. The book is marvelous because it is a historical account, but also quirkily personal, and the language is brilliantly crafted, with themes and small vignettes echoing backward and forward throughout the tale to maximum effect. We see the life of upper-class pre-revolutionary Cuba, we see the family dramas that unfold in any household, we see the increasing fear that spreads as guns and arrests and neighbors who spy and executions become the norm, replacing warnings about mysterious sins by Catholic priest teachers and breadfruit wars and the theft of toy soldiers when a parent's back is turned and American movies. We learn of the shock of moving to a new country where one is suddenly poor, friendless, and a despised minority. Eire has a marvelous resilience, and a slightly cynical rapier wit. I can't wait to read the follow-up [b:Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy|7788069|Learning to Die in Miami Confessions of a Refugee Boy|Carlos Eire|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347637808s/7788069.jpg|10733945].