When a literary work makes us laugh, moves us, provokes us, reveals to us and calls to us from beginning to end it deserves to pass into the category of recommended reading. Memoirs of an Unknown Cuban Guerilla by Juan Juan Almeida, released by the Spanish publisher Espuela de Plata, belongs to that group of books which one is proud to give to friends.
Its author does not try to break new ground in literature, nor play with time or grammatical persons. At moments, it seems to us that were are in the presence of one of these tourist guides who describe the marvels that one must visit, or that one is an intruder reading the memoirs of someone who was only relaxing; at moments it seems like a report written by an informer, the letter of a suicide, the confidences of a criminal who is confessing.
This novel, or “serial” as its detractors already call it, does not belong to the detective genre even though its pages are full of cops and robbers; the crime narrated is that which was committed against the innocence of a people. The victim smiles and takes pleasure and the culprit, who is already mentioned by the second line of the first page, turns out to be the hero of the tragedy.
Since I read the Useless Life of Pito Pérez (1938) by the Mexican José Rubén Romero, I haven’t come across an author as unreserved, or rather as shameless as this hedonistic bon vivant Juan Juan, who doesn’t hesitate to tell us his misdeeds, miseries, weaknesses and hidden perversions and who also has the infinite gall to amuse himself inviting us to be his accomplice, just at the moments we were preparing to be his executioner.
This book could have many title: “History will envy me,” “Don Juan in the Gulag,” or “Everything was a lie,” but the one chosen is perfect, you already know why.