By Christine Jean-Pierre
CSMS Magazine Staff WriterFew people outside the island understand the reality of life in metropolitan Cuba. Award-winning short story writer Nancy Alonso, in Closed for Repairs, brilliantly demonstrates how the embargo being imposed on the island has made the resilient people of Cuba so creative as they struggle with everyday life. Although it has been said that no one should judge a book by its cover, it is fair to say that this cover is in sync with the content. The picture of an old man sitting in front of what looks like an old warehouse in Calle Habana in Havana offers a clear glimpse of the daily struggle for survival in metro areas of the island. The author sums up how people in the inner city in Cuba live and face with adversity each day in the island nation. The book is divided into eleven entertaining short stories such as Caesar, Mutiny on Board, The story of a Pothole, Never Finished etc… The second short story of the book Caesar is very intriguing. It describes the story of a family living in the projects. The family needs a different way of eating instead of using vegetables from their grandmother’s garden while using them as a constant substitute for poultry dishes. So the family decides to get a small piglet named Caesar from a friend’s backyard farm to use as a way to bring meat to the table. Then the family decides not to kill Caesar because they grow too attached to the piglet and uses the animal as sort of pet around their home. The sixth story of the book Mutiny on Board is truly gut wrenching. It is a about a group of passengers in a bus who are determined to have their voices heard about their beloved bus 58 and how one rainstorm and a group of docile bus transit employees change the way transportation is used in their neighborhood of Colijimar. The Seventh story of the book The Story of a Pothole is the one that best describes the difficulties facing ordinary Cubans. It is about a woman named Noeila who complains about the broken pipe in the streets of Havana. She first tries her neighborhood representative to voice the community’s concern, but there was little success. Then she writes a letter to the Havana Water Works office, but the pothole keeps growing. Finally, a couple of years later Noeila writes to the Cuban newspaper The Tribune to voice her concern. This time, her dream becomes shattered when finding out that the only way to maintain any progress of the pothole was to have a shipment of pipes from China, which means to close off the source of water from the pothole. This novel Closed for Repairs is a novel that people of all ages would enjoy. The book contains humorous and dramatic short stories truly depicting how life is like in the inner cities of Cuba. Buy it!Note: The book was published by Connecticut based Curbstone Press. It is available almost everywhere, especially in all online bookstores. One can also visit the publisher’s website: www.curbstone.org for more info.