The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos. 1989 Perennial Library, Harper & Row, N

“He set down tools everywhere, and these congealed with a resinous-looking paste, so carelessly did he take care of them. A dusty, rusty-bladed fan sat atop a stack of old National Geographics, which he sometimes liked to read. There wre two large storerooms, a deep and narrow-shelved room in which he was always finding items of interest: among them, a six-stringed lute, which he now added to the instruments in his apartment upstairs, and a spiked German helmet from the First World War, which he kept on a beauty-salon manikin head as a joke. And he had all kinds of magazines: nudist magazines with names like Sun Beach California which featured sling-shot-testicled men and strawberry-faced women, pictured with watering cans and little plaid sun hats in the garden of life, a strange race, to be sure. Then a stack of scientific and geogrpahical surveys, refuse from the apartment of Mr. Stein, a scholarly fellow from the sixth floor. And Cesar had a big stuffed chair, a stool, an old radio, and a record player salvaged from one of the workrooms.”

Posted January 22, 2003

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