Book Notes: Eliseo Alberto’s Informe contra mí mismo
This is a book by a writer exiled from Cuba. I only bought it because I was so super excited to see an airport newsstand sell books in Spanish, but it turned out to be an amazing find. This guy is an immensely gifted writer, folks. I am mesmerized by the way he writes.
The book is autobiographical but it’s hard to define the genre because the structure is complex and beautiful. You need to read this book to understand why Cuban immigrants are so pissed off. The Cuban culture that Eliseo Alonso describes is a shockingly great and rich one, and losing something like this must be very painful. I didn’t lose much when I emigrated, so I can’t relate. But I do feel quite a bit envious of Alonso’s love for his birthplace.
Alonso’s Informe is a memory of a Cuba that no longer exists and of the slow and painful process of its destruction. But this is not a tragic book. Alonso writes with love, humor and nostalgia of the country that defines him even in exile. For someone even marginally interested in Cuba, this is a must-read. There are, for instance, several pages of Cuban Communist slogans, and following their evolution over several decades tells you more than many textbooks about the country’s recent history.
This is a book that is perfect for teaching to undergraduates. And it’s a great way to teach them about the beauty of literature.