I was thrilled and honored when I received an email from the award winning Cuban-American novelist and playwright, Teresa Dovalpage, inviting me to review her soon to be published collection of short stories. I’m so happy I accepted because I throughly enjoyed reading The Astral Plane: Stories of Cuba, the Southwest and Beyond, a collection of eight short stories, published by University of New Orleans Press.
Imagine a motley group of Habaneros as disciples of self-proclaimed guru Maestro, who channels of all people, Walt Whitman and Joan of Arc. These delightful and entertaining characters are the main inhabitants of the first and foundational story in the collection, Astral Plane. Can you find relief from the tedium of life under communism by seeking nirvana among the Cosmic Brotherhood? Is it possible to flee darkness? The stories that follow Astral Plane are a literary descent into the reality of being Cuban, adrift in the island’s dysfunctional ethos, whether in Havana or in exile.
The stories are thoroughly Cuban, original, delightful, and unexpected. In this cohesive collection, Ms. Dovalpage’s prodigious talent takes us on a dazzling journey of high drama, whimsical imagery, nail-biting suspense, and laugh-out-loud hilarity. Along the way she lays bare the reality of life in Cuba and totally debunks the myths of the Castro Revolution.
One favorite passage includes a lyrical, evocative description of El Malecón that made me weep with longing for the sights, sounds, and smells of that drive; a paragraph later I erupted in laughter at a character’s offhand comment. This savory collection is certain to become a favorite read, highly recommended.
The E-book is available here.