Tracking the Gullwing



   Rachel Kushner’s Telex from Cuba (Scribner 2008) follows the lives of American sugar plantation managers and their families in Oriente province as Fidel, Raúl and their followers descend from the mountains. This fresh and revealing perspective is just one strength of a novel that captures the texture of Cuban life in the 1950s, from the hierarchy of skin tone to the secret to skinning a pineapple in a spiral. The source of such detail could only have been Kushner’s mother, who grew up in that American community in eastern Cuba.
   And in that rich texture, this  intriguing thread:
   “ ‘The town of Palma Soriano has officially fallen under rebel control, according to Cuban news sources.’ There was television footage of roadblocks and tanks, people cheering in the streets. Then an old Hollywood actor, the star of a film Everly had seen in Nicaro, waving from a silver sports coupe with gull-wing doors. Cubans flowed around and past the exotic car as if he and it didn’t matter ... ”
   A real event? We don’t know the name of the actor. But we recognize the car.

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