Mambo Kings Play Songs Of Love Paperback – Dec 9 1999
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Inspired by their heroes Xavier Cugat and Desi Arnaz, brothers Cesar and Nestor Castillo come to New York City from Cuba in 1949 with designs on becoming mambo stars. Eventually they do--performing with Arnaz on "I Love Lucy" in 1955 and recording 78s with their own band, the Mambo Kings. In his second novel, Hijuelos traces the lives of the flashy, guitar-strumming Cesar and the timid, lovelorn Nestor as they cruise the East Coast club circuit in a flamingo-pink bus. Enriching the story are the brothers' friends and family members--all driven by their own private dreams. The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love won a Pulitzer Prize in 1990. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Frazee (Roller Coaster) kicks off a hilarious how-to with these trenchant questions: "Is sitting there on your bottom getting boring? Has lying around all the time become entirely unacceptable?" It's a pep talk for those ready to leave crawling behind (and for those who may need a refresher). Her exemplar is an authentically determined Everybaby of indeterminate sex, sporting an enormous polka-dotted diaper, with two dots for eyes and a single curlicue of hair. As the little one tentatively moves towards ambulatory independence, Frazee offers advice ranging from tongue-in-cheek tips (a chair is good to pull up on; a potted cactus is not) to wry Zen wisdom ("Feel the sway, but don't let it tip you over") to cheekily upbeat encouragement (it's okay to cry after the first fall; then check to see "if your diaper is weighing you down.... Fix whatever you can before you start over"). The book is as handsome as it is funny, with page after page of elegantly drafted spot illustrations (one sly visual aside portrays the living room layout as a forbidding, garishly yellow terrain). Of course, much of the humor will fly right by the nine- to 18-month-old crowd, but Frazee has a bigger audience in mind: eager, anxious parents—both expectant and newly anointed—and impatient older siblings. She'll have no trouble winning them over. All ages. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The book was a little bit more depressing, as the movie doesn't follow the elder brother all the way through his descent. I especially enjoyed the culture, the characters, and sharing the dreams of the main characters as well as the many interesting people the brothers meet. My only complaint, and it's a big one, was the plot is pretty thin. Since the ending is foreshadowed early, the book moves in almost real time. Feeling Ceasar's pain for three hundred pages is a little heavy, although it haunted me long after I put the book down. Maybe a few more years of "Mamboing" and definitely, a better history of Maria.
It makes me want to re-rent the movie.
It was such a bittersweet book, such an undercurrence of sadness and loss. It was essentially, a lament to old age and wasted youth. The detail is incredible, the emotions very real. It effectively captures the horrible sinking inevitability of death.
Hijelo's characters are wild, if not dislikable. This is perhaps the finest point of the piece; the characters are utterly human and terribly flawed.
Cesor's incredible libedo is at the forefront of the work, and there is a sense of humidity, sweat and the smells of sex that pervade the work. Hijelo should be admired for being able to conjuer up such senses. I found it a sensual read, however I disagree with many who describe the sex as sensual. It seemed very coarse, but this is not a criticism, it served its coarse purposes.
The only criticism I have is the distracting nature of many of the sex scenes. The sheer amount of them seemed somewhat unnecessary, however, they began to fade once Cesar aged.
Over all, innovative and superb.
Oh, I almost forgot. About a year after I read "Mambo Kings," I lent it to a woman -- a very bright woman -- but, unlike me, she's just not much of a reader. She also loved this book.
I'm a female. The two aforementioned people are females. Unlike many of the previous reviewers, not one of us was one iota offended by the book's sexuality. Everything in the book rang true, and that's what counts.
My tastes change. I'm not so sure I would love this book now as much as I did about a dozen years ago. But that doesn't matter --my memory of how much I loved it back then is all that matters.
Most recent customer reviews
I read this book with few interruptions, save sleep. Perhaps, as it was not written in a day, it may have better not too consume too much too quickly, like a good wine needs time... Read morePublished on May 5 2014 by Kindle Customer
While plot is certainly important in a book, what most readers remember are rich, complex characters. One of the best writers of character is Oscar Hijuelos. Read morePublished on April 17 2004 by Totally Anonymous
The lives of Cuban immigrant musicians explored. Two brothers, Nestor & Cesar, part of "The Mambo Kings", playing their music, making records, finding fame, until a traffic... Read morePublished on Sept. 9 2003 by Teresa Jansen
Anybody coming out of this book disappointed is missing the point completely--the Pulitzer Prize may be highly sought after in literary circles, but it's not the 'Holy Grail'. Read morePublished on June 12 2003 by Greekfreak
After I read this book, I immediately read all of Hijuelos' other books; this one remains the best of them all. Read morePublished on March 19 2003 by J Osorio
For my psych. self development course my teacher chose this book for us to read. I was very much into it at first, even with my busy schedule I was able to read much at a time... Read morePublished on Nov. 17 2002
What mainly attracted me to this book was the fact that it had won the Pulitzer Prize. Therefore, I assumed it was going to be excellent; however, I was very disappointed. Read morePublished on July 8 2002 by K. Thompson
The moment I started to read The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, I knew I would like it. The writing is descriptive and creative, and the author, Oscar Hijuelos makes you want to... Read morePublished on Dec 18 2001 by Ashley