River Grove Books

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The Tragedy Of Fidel Castro

By João Cerqueira

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An alternate reality populated by Cold War icons, THE TRAGEDY OF FIDEL CASTRO takes historical events and twists them into a satirical parable, by turns deft, funny, and sad.
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Poor Fidel Castro, having won the revolution, looks back at his difficulties in maintaining the purity of the dream and begins to admit maybe he made a few mistakes, but he was still the only man for the job. He’s squaring up against the enemy nation run by JFK for a final battle, unaware that God, Christ and a saint of sorts are considering intervention.

This quirky and often hilarious book is by turns satirical, philosophical, and realistic. It defies most narrative conventions. If it makes any stir, it will undoubtedly be decried as blasphemous, un-American, anti-socialist and anti-Cuban. The author is an equal opportunity offender.

The book isn’t actually about any of the character’s famous namesakes. Instead, they serve as avatars for larger issues: self-justifying dictators, greedy capitalists, the nature of mankind, and the inexplicable failure of God to intervene against the evil in the world.

The prologue takes a stand-up comedian approach (Eddie Izzard comes to mind), establishing God and Christ’s resistance to intervention, while the saint-in-the-field sees a budding apocalypse. The prologue is the comic highlight of the book, and readers drawn in by it may be a little disappointed by the less than light-hearted chapter that follows.

As the tone turns a bit more serious, with darker wit and some serious commentary, the tale meanders. The balance between comedy and tragedy is uneven, and the reader doesn’t always know what to expect. The seesaw effect and wandering plot line is what keeps this from being a work of genius; as it is, it should become a cult favorite.

Reviewed by Jodi McMaster for IndieReader.

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