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As I researched books about the revolution, I discovered Reinaldo Arenas who is a famous Cuban writer who was imprisoned for being a homosexual and a writer who spoke against the Cuban government. Plus they made the film version with Javier Bardem and Johnny Depp. Who wouldn't want to read this after witnessing this? So in Before Night Falls , we are introduced to Reinaldo Arenas who was born in a very small village in Cuba Which no longer exist with a mother who lived with her parents since his father abandoned her when she got pregnant.

She fell in love with this man who clearly deceived her and being totally oblivious she had one night of passionate sex and 9 months later gave birth to a child. His family life was very strange because he lived with his mother, grandmother, grandfather, and countless aunts who were desperate to marry a man.

All the women in his family suffered a cruel fate when it came to love and I believe because they were so desperate to have a man, they would give up everything to be with him and let him used her until he found the next good looking lady to play around with. Because he was living practically in nature, he got to see a different prospect of life and for a brief time he felt independent and free because being able to roam around in nature without anyone to bother him, swimming in the river, and overall connecting to the animals gave him this major spiritual and sexual awakening.

Whats crazy is by the time he was almost 10 years old, he already had desires to have sex with men and even let his older cousin fool around him. Sadly after this period of enlightenment, everything went to garbage come Cuba before Fidel Castro was in a state of corruptness because they already had a dictator named Bautista who was making the country bankrupt to fill his greed. Then comes Fidel Castro who is an intellectual, praised the people and encourage those to fight against Bautista in order to bring a new system of government and then finally one day Bautista fled the country giving Fidel Castro total control of Cuba.

In that time period, Reinaldo was a teenager who volunteered for the revolution and clearly points out how they say thousands of soldiers died when in reality this big war was more a battle of intellects using propaganda to exaggerate more than the truth. Under Fidel Castro's regime, he offered free education, medical care, and a bunch of empty promises that later would become lies.

Everyone feel in love with Fidel and sadly within a few years countless individuals were being persecuted in the name of the Revolution. If you were part of the government before Fidel, you lost your job, went to jail, or got killed. If you spoke against the government you were killed for being a counterrevolutionary.

He changed the currency of the country making it difficult for the rich and other individuals escape the country. He also hated homosexuals and if you were caught for being one you were sent to jail or a concentration camp waiting to serve your sentence. He utterly brought the citizens of Cuba to its knees and beg for mercy. As Reinaldo was growing up, he gets into military school to become an agricultural accountant but clearly has something else on his mind and pursues writing poetry. In Havana, he enters a contest at the national library for storytelling and wins which offers the opportunity to become a writer and work for the library.

He becomes friends with other writers and get to live the artist lifestyle in Havana from having private literary gathers, watching live theater, ballet, and partying in the popular places in Havana. Everything seems paradise but as always the arts is the first thing to go in a communist government and it became illegal to attend the beach, theater, and have literary gatherings that spoke against the government. A bunch of Reinaldo's friends betrayed him by working for State Security or got other important jobs in the government.

The sense of friendship became nonexistent because if you spoke against Fidel or mention plans of escaping you would get arrested by the secret police. Once he was an adult by the early s, he made the dumbest mistake of calling the cops over these two guys who he had sex on the beach who robbed his clothes and other items. When the police arrived and found the two individuals they were sent to the police station. The head of the police was the uncle of one of the individuals and quickly the two individuals said that Reinaldo and his friend tried molesting them and in return they beat him up and stole his stuff.

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They were immediately released and because Reinaldo Arenas was a famous writer who wrote books that were censored from the government, they arrested him and put in jail. Luckily he escaped before heading to prison and now he is running for his life. He tried countless ways of escaping the island but to no avail he was caught and finally sent to El Morro which is one of the most horrifying and dangerous prisons in Havana.

He was not charged for being a homosexual and he was lucky enough because of that he was not harassed in jail or put into the special section of the prison dedicated to drag queens, homosexuals, or transgender which were constantly abused, raped, or live in worst jail cells. He was in prison for almost a decade, living in excruciating heat, freezing temperatures, barely any food to eat.

He was constantly interrogated to make a confession that he was counterrevolutionary, a homosexual, and the names of his conspirators. If he wanted to used the bathroom he had a hole to use which always got feces stuck to his feet and constantly had to smell the foul odor of his other inmates and himself. In the end he survives through all this horror and finally comes to America thanks to the Mariel boat lift but unfortunately he has been forever changed from the horrors of Fidel Castro. His friends were murdered, put into jail, committed suicide, escape to another country and for years he was not able to see his family.

When he came to America he was shocked how the U. He was outraged and felt like a stranger which he practically was since he was an exile never finding a place called home. The issues that I had with the book is as follows: OMG this man writes beautiful and has an incredible flow with his storytelling especially since English is not his 1st native language but he could had cut out about pages and be done with it.

I disliked how I had to read pages about his childhood in order for the story to become interesting and not put me to sleep. His sexual encounters became out of control. He practically had sex with any person who had a penis and I did not find any romance or intimacy with his sexual encounters. I felt like he was like a piece of meat while every man took a bite out of him and discarded him. I understand people who have constant promiscuous sex which is perfectly fine by me but this man supposedly had sex by the thousands.

He would go to the beach one day, hid around in the bushes and then there would be a hundred men waiting to have their turn with him. Finally the final reason that I did not enjoy as much as I did was because this book is not meant for public consumption. And what I mean by that is yes it was interesting learning about Cuba during the ss, but he mentions so many people that he encountered, people of no importance, or individuals that are either quickly forgotten or too much gossip about them that you lose sense of who is who.

It is important for everyone to learn about his story, a story that thousands of Cubans have lived through but this book was dedicated more for his friends and family that knew him. Even though we learn of the horrors about Cuba, he plays homage to those who successfully escaped the island and to his friends and family who unfortunately died in Cuba in its disparity.

What this book taught me is how thankful I am for my grandmother to be able to have relatives in America who were able to claim her and her family in order to escape the craziness of what was happening in Cuba. If it weren't for her I would never have been born or I would have been born in Cuba in a country that countless people are starving every day, they lack any means of communication of the outside world, and a country that would have persecuted me already because of sexual identity. It is sad that millions of Cubans have been murdered in the hands of one man, one man only.

People praise Fidel which is perfectly fine because we live in a country where Freedom of Speech is allowed. But if you look at the island in itself, and take the time to witness how these people have become ignorant savages in their own island it makes you wonder who would let these people suffer with no food, clean water, barely any money, and no freedom of speech and equal rights. Then you ask yourself who is control of this government and thats when you put two and two together and realize that the country has had a dictator for 56 years who uses the Cuban revolution as the excuse for his actions.

I will never understand how people worship Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. I pray that one day Cuba can finally be free and in peace. I wish no harm towards my enemies but I wish we can finally find peace and put everything to rest. Es un libro que nunca estuvo en mi lista de pendientes, y me alegro profundamente de haberlo incorporado casi sorpresivamente. Ha sido una lectura impactante y de las que dejan poso durante mucho tiempo.

Me ha descubierto a una persona que supo ser feliz incluso en las peores circunstancias, que mantuvo la esperanza de llegar a ser libre. Y me ha gustado tanto que le perdono las algo obvias exageraciones, idealizaciones que nos cuenta.

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Jan 30, Robert Beveridge rated it it was amazing Shelves: Schnabel did an excellent job with the book; while his interpretation of the text was loose in places, he managed to capture in images the style of Arenas' writing. In other words, if you saw the movie before reading the book, you're going to be somewhat surprised. Some of Schnabel's more memorable scenes are mentioned in passing if at a Reinaldo Arenas, Before Night Falls Penguin, Arenas' memoir of life in Cuba has recently been made into one of the finest films extant by Julian Schnabel.

Some of Schnabel's more memorable scenes are mentioned in passing if at all in the book, and one of the film's central sequences, the balloon escape, gets one sentence. Where Arenas and Schnabel intersect is in the lushness, the ability to find celebration and remarkable beauty inside the ugliness of the Castro regime and, for a few years' worth, the Batista regime before it.

Arenas' memoir is also likely to shock more than a few in its sexual explicitness another aspect Schnabel rather shied away from, which I found a tad surprising while reading the book , but so be it. There is nothing gratuitous about either Arenas' promiscuity or his literary descriptions of it; it's no different than using the language of excess to describe the beastliness of a life that involves hand-to-mouth poverty and political censure. And throughout, more than anything and perhaps this is what makes the book so powerful , Before Night Falls is a celebration, both of Arenas' life and the lives of many other Cuban writers persecuted as dissidents in the latter half of the twentieth century.

Well I had to fight through that one at times. I understand and feel for the author with the Cuban repression of his art, and the squalor that he had to live in. I think he was a wonderful writer, and his novels are probably brilliant. His views of the American far Left made me smile, as how can anyone have a better view of Cuba and the hatred and unjustified oppression that communism in that country produces.

I can not believe for one second many of the tales of his "erotic encounters. The island would shake itself apart and fall into the sea. There doesn't seem to be a mode of transport that is not a moving bordello of pulsating homosexuality. It seems that every policeman, soldier, government official, and male in Cuba is either a blatant homosexual or a repressed homosexual. The author would be a walking fertility clinic if half of this is true; in fact I am surprised that he would be able to move without overbalancing due to the liquid content of his body.

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Perhaps this was not for me, but it does have merits in writing style and the crystal clear view into the oppression of literature and homosexuality in Cuba. Jan 03, Sean A. Absolutely stunningly brilliant, candid memoir. Arenas does an immaculate job, as he would describe it, of screaming against the systems of control in this case, the so-called communism but really dystopian dictatorship of castro's cuba which doggedly plagued the author throughout his life. If you are looking for a nice, inspiring biography that delicately glosses over the actual suffering part of the writer's experience, this book is not for you.

If descriptions of sexual encounters enough to be questionable bother you, this book is also not for you. This was not easy to read by any means. While well written and compelling, the blunt descriptions of the things he saw and experienced are vivid and have genuine emotional impact. I feel admiration for him for having survived and gri If you are looking for a nice, inspiring biography that delicately glosses over the actual suffering part of the writer's experience, this book is not for you.

I feel admiration for him for having survived and grief for the people who were destroyed - some physically, some mentally. This book reminds me of how grateful I am to have been born in a country where I needn't worry of experiencing such poverty, oppression, or suffering. I am also grateful to him for sharing his story. Mar 22, Jennifer Mccombs rated it it was amazing.

The truth that stems from this book is beautiful. Quite possibly my favorite writer at the moment. Each description is original in thought and placed on paper with no insecurities resting behind his hand. This book will scare the shit out of you and make you think about Cuba and it The truth that stems from this book is beautiful.

This book will scare the shit out of you and make you think about Cuba and its' people in an entirely new way. No obstante, Reinaldo Arenas logra -con una prosa bien lograda y llena de reflexiones acertadas- abrir la puerta ante el secreto que el poder intenta mantener oculto. Even before the actual beginning of the book in the introduction we become aware of how unreliable Arenas is as a narrator. The impression is repeatedly reinforced throughout the book to the point that it become impossible to fathom what is true from what is exaggeration or even fiction under the pen of someone who seems perpetually dissatisfied with his lot and clearly has an axe to grind.

Having managed to read most of it in the original Spanish with the English translation at hand I was als Even before the actual beginning of the book in the introduction we become aware of how unreliable Arenas is as a narrator. Having managed to read most of it in the original Spanish with the English translation at hand I was also surprised how shoddy and disrespectful of the text that translation appeared to be.

The names of certain characters have been changed partially and entirely , the pagination altered paragraphs added, one moved from the front of a chapter to the end of the previous one , and some significant inaccuracies, not to mention a clear lack of cultural sensitivity from the translator with regards to the gay world. Sep 16, Eddie Clarke rated it really liked it Shelves: A brave, honest and tragic autobiography, in a way demonstrating the persistence of idealism and hope despite the horrors of Castro's Cuba and the brutal disappointments of exile.

Quite raw and unpolished, perhaps due to the circumstances in which it was written he had AIDS , but nevertheless extraordinarily powerful and emotionally affecting. Nov 15, Eddie rated it really liked it. I want to visit Cuba more than ever after reading Reinaldo Arenas' bio. When you read this book, you will be given a raw and realistic insight into cuban society under Fidel Castro's regime and it will not look all that good, but something about it just makes cuban culture and cuban history very intriguing.

Arenas' story is a rough patch. All along, from birth to death. Yet he seemed to juggle his hardships in a very brave and undefeated way, it's as if he was used to live in misery and accept it I want to visit Cuba more than ever after reading Reinaldo Arenas' bio. Yet he seemed to juggle his hardships in a very brave and undefeated way, it's as if he was used to live in misery and accept it as part of his existence. Although it does get to distressing lengths at certain points and you feel him giving in, he eventually goes as far as attempting suicide while in jail.

The majority of his entourage is depicted in such a way that you only think of them as despicable beings, I got enraged at some of the passages, specifically with his friends and family turning into state informers snitching on him and the corrupted Castro system which is more laughable than anything else. Liberal Americans tend to think Of Fidel as a revolutionary hero, but he was no better than Mao, whom we also idolized.

We didn't know how Fidel starved and persecuted his people, or how racist his regime was, or how poor his economic programs were. Eire also wrote a memoir from the point of view of a upper middle class child in Havana which supports Arenas's findings. Reinaldo Arenas lived through Cuba's transition from the Batista dictatorship to the Castro dictatorship. As a gay writer resisting Castro's imposition of Communism, he suffered brutal persecution. The book chronicles his attempts to elude the informers and those who would, and eventually did, imprison him for his writings.

His attempts to escape from Cuba ended when the Mariel boat lift took hundreds of Cubans to the United States. He died in In "Before Night Falls", Arenas describes the joy his sexuality brought him through the years and how much it meant to be able to share that gift with his partners. There is a lot more mention of his sexual adventures in the book than in the excellent film that was made from the book. This is not erotic writing though - there are no steamy passages describing intimate details of sexual encounters. Sex happened and he describes the circumstances and the excitement and fulfillment it gave him.

This book shocked me, comforted me, saddened me and, at the end, disappointed me. After he spends so much of the book covering this misfortune in Cuba, I felt depressed by the way the book ends and in the city I live in, no less! Definitely an honest, unadulterated account of one author who lived through many things in his life. I highly recommend reading it. One person found this helpful 2 people found this helpful. Schnabel did an excellent job with the book; while his interpretation of the text was loose in places, he managed to capture in images the style of Arenas' writing.

In other words, if you saw the movie before reading the book, you're going to be somewhat surprised. Some of Schnabel's more memorable scenes are mentioned in passing if at all in the book, and one of the film's central sequences, the balloon escape, gets one sentence. Where Arenas and Schnabel intersect is in the lushness, the ability to find celebration and remarkable beauty inside the ugliness of the Castro regime and, for a few years' worth, the Batista regime before it.

Arenas' memoir is also likely to shock more than a few in its sexual explicitness another aspect Schnabel rather shied away from, which I found a tad surprising while reading the book , but so be it. There is nothing gratuitous about either Arenas' promiscuity or his literary descriptions of it; it's no different than using the language of excess to describe the beastliness of a life that involves hand-to-mouth poverty and political censure.

And throughout, more than anything and perhaps this is what makes the book so powerful , Before Night Falls is a celebration, both of Arenas' life and the lives of many other Cuban writers persecuted as dissidents in the latter half of the twentieth century.

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After seeing the movie, I was interested in reading the book to get a feel for the writers voice. I'm so glad I did. Written in almost a stream of consciousness, Arenas's telling of a gay writers life under Fidel Castro is far more harrowing that could be depicted on screen. But it's also such a testament to the human spirit, and the quest to break the confines of imprisonment physically as well as artistically and sexually. He relays his story with an unapologetic frankness in regards to his various sexual expolits as well as his bitterness towards Castro.

I'm amazed that people manage to survive against so much adversity. After his suicide, we as readers are fortunate there's a body of work that exits, and after reading this biography,the books should be considered all the more precious for the risks it took to get them published.

Loved the movie and my recent trip to Havana made we want to read the source material. Glad to find it a a fair price and quick delivery. I had checked this book out from the library a few years ago. I wanted to read it again and with rereads I always buy them as if they are that good you should own it. One person found this helpful. See all 77 reviews. Most recent customer reviews. Published 2 months ago.

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ComiXology Thousands of Digital Comics. East Dane Designer Men's Fashion. Shopbop Designer Fashion Brands. Withoutabox Submit to Film Festivals. In a very Schnabel fashion, we find a character struggling to remain human in the midst of de-humanization, crisis, and humilliation. And not just any character, a poet. There is always the notion that tragedy and comedy, fun and pain, are inseparable and his life is irrefutable testament to it.

Javier Bardem's performance is very powerful, sefless, and beautiful. There are appearances by other actors, more famous than he was at the time, but this is clearly his film. Quite a difficult one to rate, as the acting was superb, whilst the film was long and drawn out. Great narration throughout by Javier Bardem, which worked well and he, as always was very impressive. The story of Reinaldo Arenas? A very small role here for Johnny Depp and an even smaller almost unrecognisable role for Sean Penn. More Top Movies Trailers Forums. Apocalypse Better Call Saul: Season 4 Castle Rock: Season 1 The Deuce: Season 2 Fear the Walking Dead: Season 3 The Walking Dead: Before Night Falls View All Photos 4.

This is the story of Cuban poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas. Raised in the Oriente Province of Cuba in the s, Arenas began his life-long love of the sea and water. Leaving home as a young adolescent, he moves to Havana where he finds himself swept up in the revolutionary spirit and joins a circle of writers and artists. His first novel, "Singing from the Well," is published in Cuba, but as Castro's oppressive regime gathers force, Arenas' homosexuality and political writing make him a target. After being falsely accused of molestation, Arenas is arrested and imprisoned at El Morro.

Eventually released from prison after dehumanizing treatment, Arenas flees Cuba in the Mariel Harbor boatlift.

Javier Bardem as Reinaldo Arenas. Olivier Martinez as Lazara Gomez Carriles. Hector Babenco as Virgilio Pinera. Johnny Depp as Lt. Andrea Di Stefano as Pepe Malas. Sean Penn as Cuco Sanchez. Michael Wincott as Heberto Zorilla Ochoa. Olatz Lopez Garmendia as Reinaldo's Mother. Vito Maria Schnabel as Teenage Reinaldo.