Book 880 Reinaldo Arenas – Before Night Falls

Unfortunately Google did not have the book cover so I had to settle for a the movie poster – which is very similar. Oh I would have taken a pic but I don’t have a digital camera.

It seems that the LBGT selections in the list are the most enjoyable novels and this is no exception.

Usually the list focuses on fiction and it seems and once in a while an autobiography crops up and this is one.

Here Arenas documents his life from his erotically charged childhood in the country to his teenage years as a victim to Castro’s  reign over Cuba.  As Arenas was a homosexual and a writer his life was full of persecutions, arrests and other horrors. In between we are given descriptions of the literary and homosexual scenes of Cuba during the 60’s and 70’s.

Eventually Arenas does manage to leave Cuba and head off to the States but, again he is out-of-place and feels like a person without any home or identity.

On one hand it is a savage criticism of Fidel Castro’s government but it is also a love letter to Cuba for when Arenas has to leave he misses it.

By the mid 80’s Arenas was diagnosed with AIDS , mostly due to his promiscuous lifestlye and he committed suicide in 1990. Although I found it tacky his suicide note is the final chapter in the book.

Did I like Before Night Falls? Oh yes. It’s a novel which brings out the frustration of someone who wants to be creative and isn’t allowed so there’s a lot of black humor in describing some of Castro’s ideas but there are moments of great beauty and these are the best bits of  here.

Brutal, wonderful and painfully honest this is one autobiography that should not be missed!

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