Leonardo Padura's latest novel, Havana Fever,
is a cold-case
investigation into the disappearance of a beautiful bolero singer forty-seven
years prior to current events. Padura does a wonderful job of crafting the
mystery. Clues are revealed gradually, building suspense and ultimately leading
the reader to its dark but satisfying conclusion. Purely as a mystery novel,
is top-notch and a terrific example of modern noir.
The real highlight of the book, though, is Padura's rich and evocative
writing style. He brilliantly conjures up both the smoky nightclubs of Batista's
Havana in the 1950s and the city's present poverty, comparing and contrasting
the two different eras. Both are dark, gritty and rife with corruption. The
modern scenes in particular are cloaked in an oppressive, unrelenting gloom that
doesn't begin to lift until...
Beyond the Book
The Cuban Bolero
The Cuban bolero is the first internationally recognized music form
to originate in Cuba. Closely related to trovador songs and habaneras, boleros
are songs of romance, featuring themes of love and heartbreak. The music is most
often slow, sensual and deeply romantic.
The Cuban bolero
is often confused with the Spanish bolero. The two forms arose independently,
apparently neither influencing the other. Whereas the Spanish bolero is always in 3/4 time, the Cuban version is in 2/4 or 4/4. In addition, the Cuban version is heavily influenced
by African-based rhythms. The two styles are danced differently, as well; the
Spanish bolero has couples dancing apart, while the Cuban bolero is danced by
couples who are touching....