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Tropical Animal: A Novel [Hardcover]

Pedro Gutirrez
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

30 Nov 2004
Echoing the raw vitality of Henry Miller, Tropical Animal brings the return of the already infamous Pedro Juan, the seductive protagonist at the heart of Dirty Havana Trilogy. Pursued by Gloria, a proud and sophisticated prostitute on a mission to curb his predatory instincts, Pedro Juan is holed up in his crumbling Havana apartment, painting, with a growing sense of melancholy as he observes the lives of the hustlers, hipsters, and hookers in the city below him. An invitation to Sweden, of all placescold, unwelcoming, the antithesis of Pedro's Cubagives him an official way out, and the phone manner of his potential hostess offers incentive enough for him to leave for the literary life in Europe. However, once there he finds himself haunted by memories of the passionate Gloria and increasingly uninspired by his new environment. Does Pedro Juan, legendary seducer and imbiber of hard liquor, finally have to admit that his game is overto be replaced by this more balanced, more secure, colder existence? In tight, tough prose Pedro Juan Gutirrez explores human animalism with a joyous fearlessness absent from much of our contemporary culture and sheds a brilliant new light into the depths and complexities of the soul.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Avalon Publishing Group (30 Nov 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786714999
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786714995
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14.8 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,590,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A lewd, impious and brilliant novel of contemporary Cuba."

About the Author

Pedro Juan Gutiérrez began his working life at the age of eleven, as an ice-cream vendor and newsboy. He is the author of Dirty Havana Trilogy, Tropical Animal and The Insatiable Spider Man, and several works of poetry. His latest novel, Our GG in Havana, was published by Faber in 2010. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Real Cuba 27 July 2003
By A Customer
I loved this book. It's not a wonderful as Dirty Havana Trilogy but it certainly is a far cry from a lot books on Cuba that mysticise the country.
It's an honestly written story that feels real and not just another story to read and put on your book shelves. If you want to know the real Cuba start reading books from real writers like Pedro Juan. This is a good starting place.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hotter than a Cuban night 19 Aug 2007
Pedro Juan, the anti-hero, is a straight talking, womanising, hard living, hard drinking, Cuban artist. He hangs out with the whores and low life in Cuba, soaking up the louche living, trying to be as free and easy as possible. Upon arriving in Sweden he finds himself set adrift from his usual life and trying to cope with the slow normalcy of the Scandinavian way of life. Living with Agneta he tries to introduce her to the pleasures of pleasure, while wishing he was back home with his Cuban girl, Gloria.

'Tropical Animal' is a must read if you enjoyed 'Dirty Havana Trilogy', or if you enjoy the writing of Bukowski or Henry Miller. The novel portrays the central character's sensual life to the full with short chapters and short sharp sentences. This is a life lived for the moment not for the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frozen North versus a Verdant South 6 April 2010
By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
A great piece of writing highlighting a fundamental question of the dionysian life- does affluence inevitably lead to sterility. The protagonist is left with a stark choice, a life of comfortable bliss tinged with ennui in the suicide capital of the world or a life of poverty and eroticism in one of the most exciting capitals in the world.

You are led through the maze of expectation, the escape from drudgery and penury to freedom. Then the coldness of the northern european culture kicks in. There are bachanals to be had across northern europe but they act as a form of rebellion against austerity rather than a joy in themselves. Pedro pinpoints a fundamental problem with the notion of progress, development and accumulation, the joy of having things gets in the way of being.

Some people may see this as porn dressed as literature, others may view it as existential angst, I see it as adressing a key non party political, political question. Where does happiness lie, in things or in people? Yes those same people may be involved in all types of nefarious activities undertaken to survive, disturbing the mirror of manners, but is it not true in London regeneration has lead to blandness, sterility and ennui. The preoccupation with producing money has led to the preoccupation of making more money, an ever ascending escalator. Poverty within this scale is perceived as the bottom step, but it is not necessary a lesser quality of life.

Another key question arising from this portrayal of the dirt behind the facade, whilst the Cuban revolution has been derailed and the country is not the socialist paradise of human existence, neither is it Haiti or Mexico. This raises questions on societal development and types of models countries are forced to take by IMF.

If you want to read this book as a piece of escapism, this is also an option. There are a myriad of choices from this blast of the pipes of pan.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars About as poor as it gets 19 Dec 2008
I read Dirty Havan and persevered with it thru the sub-porn to see if there was a writer lurking there underneath the trashy sensationalism.
I subsequently read The Insatiable Spiderwoman (which is considerably better and does indeed contain some decent writing)
This is a return to the trashy Havana sensationalism of Dirty Havana and is without any saving grace. The same strands are continued with an excursion to Sweden w Pedro Juan as an etranger.
I really am not sure why Gutierrez keeps up this trite porn drivel - probably because fools will buy it for the sensationalist porn.
If you want to read Cuban writers then go elsewhere and I would recommend starting with Lezama Lima and Marti.
This has few redeeming features and I say this as a much travelled Cuban admirer. It gives a gross overall flavour of Havana Central - of SOME people from Central. It is not as such about Cuba.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 2.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad Translation 6 Nov 2011
By P. Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
I give it one star simply because of the translation. For example, "la casa de Rosa" becomes in English "the house of Rosa" instead of "Rosa's house." The sloppiest, junior high school errors I've ever had the displeasure to read. And the demigod Gutierrez would likely be (probably is) extremely disappointed to learn that an awful translation makes this book entirely unbearable to read. The translator of Tropical Animal, whoever he is, brutalizes Gutierrez's work. It plods, stumbles, and staggers along with no clear appreciation for either English or the book's original Spanish. Just horrendous.

Don't be deterred by this - try picking up Dirty Havana Trilogy translated by Natasha Wimmer, and you'll see the difference.
4.0 out of 5 stars A vibrant and terse tour through Havana and Sweden 26 Jun 2011
By M. Haber - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you enjoy Bukowksi, 'Tropical Animal' will not disappoint. Told in the street-wise yet literary voice of Pedro Juan, we are taken from his life in Havana all the way to Sweden and by the end back to Cuba. The story revolves around Pedro Juan's relationships with Gloria (Cuba) and Agneta (Sweden). One relationship is stormy while the other is somewhat bland. A well-told story with some good universal insights about art, love and compianship.

I've read other reviewers slight this book because it was 'dirty' or 'shocking' which is ridiculous since the book's literary value is obvious from the first page. You may not always agree with Pedro Juan or his choices, however the story is as truthful as any country's literature and the reader walks away with a deep insight (a touch depressing) into the darker side of Modern Havana.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What a sad and empty life 25 July 2011
By Eddie Russell - Published on Amazon.com
Growing up I read through Henry Miller's trilogy Sexus, Nexus and Plexus and Tropic of Cancer/Capricon and finally The Rosy Crucifixion. So I am inured to this kind of narrative: debauchery, drinking and ramblings on just about any topic.

The difference between Gutierrez and Miller is that the latter had a deeply philosophical bent that at some level gave the books heart, whereas stripped of that, as in Gutierrez's case, leaves you with a life devoid of anything other than sex and drinking. And we all get past that stage once we get into our adulthood.

I guess that Mr Gutierrez is still stuck in his 20's. For a man in his sixties to be behaving in this manner is not exciting and interesting but empty and pathetic.

If this was my life I wouldn't make it past 25.
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