Telex from Cuba is set in pre-revolutionary Cuba, which attracted me to the book right away. I find Cuban culture and history fascinating and I therefore had high hopes for Telex. However, I was disappointed.
Kushner's characters are purported to be the main draw to this novel, but I found them to be generally uninteresting with the exception of the Stites. The historical events are barely commented on at all and what we're left with is a very slow-moving book. For every few lines of actual plot advancement, we're subjected to pages of the characters' thoughts. Some might enjoy this style, but I found that it made the book interminable. In fact, there were multiple times near the end when I found myself thinking that the book was over but being disappointed to discover that it went on.
The narrator that was chosen is dull and somewhat monotone. Seeing as this book is set in Cuba, I would have thought that someone who had a basic ability to pronounce Spanish words would have been selected, but in this I was disappointed. He butchers the Spanish throughout the novel, whether the words were those of the Americanos or of the Cubans.
In fact, the narrator was responsible for the most disappointing part of the novel: the climax. Just as Fidel ends his revolutionary speech, the crowd erupts in "Viva Castro! Viva la revolucion!" However, in delivering this dramatic moment, the narrator in all honesty sounded like a lisping Scooby Doo. It was uninspiring to say the least.
I considered rating this book one star for the fact that Kushner took the liberty to involve Fidel in a homosexual episode. However, for the parts that involved the Stites, which were genuinely compelling, I gave it two instead.
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