11 01 2010


(taken from the magazine, Encuentro de la Cultura Cubana, 51/52, pp. 250-251, 2009)
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Encuentro de la Cultura Cubana

51/52, pp. 250-251, 2009)

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Cuban literature suffered a fundamentally fundamentalist Twentieth Century. An era that was not so much repressive as repetitive, where the verb of order was found. Found cathedrals in the future, the grand baroque bars poetic and political systems. Found new pines that never give your torso a twist: fidelity as ethical justification for intolerance. Found a destinationorigin for the Republic of Cuban Letters, and from there taking cover behind a moral wall against the decadence and disintegration (the limit marked by the barbed wire of the one-and-only national tradition).  Found a feud, even at the risk of ending up fossilized within its coordinated: a price assumed as a lesser evil.  Nothing of little games, grotesque experiments, much less flights from the fatherland’s roots (radical).  Nothing of superficialities beyond the cork constituting our Island platform.

Fortunately, the literature is too important to be left to the literati. We must deny and, if it can be done, re-deny that Lo Cubano is a cliché. Pushing back against the consensual wisdom is already a critical first sign of health. And just as in one of those paraliterary, I am refreshed by the writing of Wendy Guerra (Havana, 1970), jpg actress and risqué poet who, against the tide of her generation, poses and flirts like an enfant terrible of the weightless light verse novel  (helium versus heroism), in a bet with pop to distance herself from this temptation tower called the Great Historical Novel of the Revolution (from Alejo Carpentier to Jesus Diaz, all our “serious” novelists succumbed to the same aesthetic bluff).

After her first fiction or journal (Everyone Goes, Bruguera 2006), Wendy Guerra still clings to her prose like a surfer on the kick board.  With carefree intuitive strokes, in I Was Never First Lady (Bruguera 2008) she hit certain dissonant chords that deconstructed any illusion of perpetual epic.  For me, the perverse reader, they are symbolic demarcations sufficient to oxygenate an atmosphere so provincial that I still doubt whether these books can be published in Cuba.

The at times drippy tone of Wendy Guerra is the least of it (I suppose this is part of her innocent glam, like the pink cover).  The tendency to the sentimental in her arguments and letters should not matter very much (perhaps it is a nod to marketing to make clear the narrator is a woman).  And the typical topics in the end leave a good dose in the banal narrative space which at times becomes bizarre.  Thus, in this sinuous alternating between the common voice and individual vision, I Was Never First Lady ends up possessed of the timid temptation of the a virgin naif.

And it is that the novel is elsewhere. For the purpose of emotional memory, how significant are those unpredictable moments that are articulated as traps of intensity.  To suck imaginary milk from the titty of a man, like a palliative against the daily maternal labor, or perhaps exile.  Deserted in a family of three hermits, among books covered with the mute masks of fear of the dictatorship of the proletariat.  Innocently posing naked before Che in the openness of the sixties.  To make a radial catharsis in an emission without censorship on the long stretch of the Cuban dawn.  Fornicating in France with her little pioneer uniform, in a gymnastic orgy for the exclusive consumption of two (and also for all of us, the voyuervivantes), which at last results in and episode of Edipo-Rev.  To zoom-in with a hidden camera on the empty room of the Maximum Leader: First flashes for a biography of the copulation in the olive-green cupola? Talking through an amnesiac television with the Poltergeist of its own Premier.  A suicide under our noses that is undramatically and distantly imposed on us, Brechtian break that excludes even the narrator, be they man or woman.  The first death of Fidel in the octogenarian summer of 2006: a pending matter to relate without metaphors or allegories for our intellectual incompetence (the danger paralyzed us).  Miami like a mirage of waiting without hope in Havana.  And some more.  These are only examples of the raw material that Wendy Guerra unfolds across the fragmentary and antinovelistic deck of I Never Was First Lady.

She, who was never first anything.  And to whom, by laziness or envy, the immodest public has already said of allchic, practicing flirt and frivolous of the glamour (shaved head, hats made of balls, striped knee socks, flower water and vanilla candles to wake up to, poems with sandalwood, and a scandalous umbrella like in a Parisian tomb like in a Havana boutique).  She, cursing in calm web-commentaries of those who daily pissed off even the language; local or dis-local tough guys who make war with Wendy instead of making love (they read with neither freedom nor libido).  She, of the interview light to the lights of the runway, far away like cuba (here you lave), that will never be first in anything and that, just for that reason, writes from backs of all fundamentalist tightrope walkers.

I suspect it is a privilege to tell with a post-Cuban writing.  This no/vel no/sail no/candle does not kneel to drink from the national spring of our canonical texts (despite being split in two by the phallic shaft of Cubanesque nostalgia), but perhaps is sprinkled with fresh saga like one of Françoise Sagan: Good Night, Sadness? Each chapter is best understood like the post of a blog blockaded that is its own nom de guerre in times of peace (  They are elusive and equivocal texts, exiled in Grey Minor but with a national passport rouge.  They promise everything to comply with very little (it is the base of seduction).  Narcissism at the point of morbidity, without the morose tedium of this straight jacket that the theorists call a “high bill.”

On the contrary, I Never Was First Lady is pure underwear, a lingual wire.  Graffiti with lipstick on a mirror stained by excessive mercury and scourge of The Historical (an evil maieutics that so many creators castrated).  Skin proximate and precarious, politics reaching the private, the intimate word whimpered like performance in the open plaza.  Silent music, rare rapture, parturition without pushing, peaceful pact of the page or a white flag.  Museum act in the mausoleum of an epicless epoch.  A tale that escapes, finally, between the tyrannical barbed wires of one-and-only-one tradition now in its final throes.

I am sorry.  It makes no sense to hide it.  I love this pink book of Wendy Guerra.  It is not necessary to be cult writers to be free.




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