Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Tragedy of Fidel Castro: Satire or Veiled Truth?

Satire is an interesting genre. For those of us who love it, we truly love it. For those who don't, they tend to hate it. Most satire requires the reader to know another story or work to get the full benefit of the book, movie, song, or painting. There was once, decades ago, a bank slogan that touted the personal banker relationship. The billboard asked in big letters, "What is the name of your banker?" Someone had written 'Shylock'. If one was not familiar with the play by  Shakespeare, one would never understand the satire in the graffiti. Some satire is funny, even without the benefit of knowing the whole story. "Young Frankenstein" by Mel Brooks, for example, had lots of humor even if you had not read the story by Shelley. I found the movie 'Galaxy Quest' so funny that I have seen it 7 or 8 times but I found it so funny because I was completely familiar with Star Trek and the interplay of the actors on and off the screen.  Today's story, "The Tragedy of Fidel Castro", served up to us by Joao Cerqueira, is a delicious satire which I believe will be more enticing the more you know about the story of Fidel, his obsessions, his passions, and his dealing with the United States of America, particularly John Kennedy.

About the book:
God discovers that he must send his son to earth once again, this time to stop an impending war between Fidel Castro and John F. Kennedy. Fatima will be there to guide Jesus on his new quest, though she is not sure how they will accomplish all of this. Meanwhile, J. F. K. has his own set of problems; how does he deal with the new reality of Cuba? Fidel has realized that achieving his dream of a perfect society is not as easy as he thought it would be.

In the beginning, God is informed about the growing conflict and must convince his son to return to earth. Not an easy task. If God doesn't do this right, he fears he my be fired. Next in this tale is J. F. K., along with his advisors, slipping into the prison to interrogate and turn Castro's most perfect spy,
Varadero. When they have finished with him, the spy is sent back to Cuba where interesting things happen to him. Meanwhile in Cuba, we learn more about Castro's feelings, thoughts, and his best plans.  We also learn he loves to sleep. Remember, this is a satire. Read between the lines.

The dance between these openings and the final battle is a whirlwind of steps, stomps, flings, tosses, and jumps, keeping the reader engaged and a little off balanced.  Cerqueira is not afraid to tackle the pros and cons of both socialism and corporatism (often mistaken for capitalism).  He is not afraid to take a few swipes at the church and religion in general, either, as he weaves this alternate tale of the battle of wills and wits between J. F. K. and Fidel.

My Take:
Wow! This is quite the book. Nothing escapes Cerqueira's pen. I don't know much of the story of Fidel and Kennedy but it wasn't required to enjoy this short novel.  I do think one has to appreciate the different political systems of governing and of economies for this book to have its full impact. Cleanly written, there is nothing in the writing to distract the reader from the tale. It is too easy to identify the characters with their namesakes but take care. There is so much more to this story than an off center retelling of past history. At the same time, the names lend the reader a bit of background to understand the larger but veiled concepts the story conveys. My only complaint is the lack of coverage of Jesus and his ultimate goal.  However, the final scene made be laugh as I realized what Cerqueira had said. This story offers dozens of scenes likely to stick with the reader for months or even years to come.

My Recommendation:
Satire is not meant for everyone just as Romance novels and Science Fiction are not meant for everyone.  However, if you are a fan of the genre, I believe you will find this pearl of a book will fit right into your treasure case of books.

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