Employing multiple storytelling modes, the book always finds its way back to Daniel Quinn, a not-so-young-anymore newspaperman in Kennedy’s familiar stamping grounds of Albany, who, given the compromises endemic to that calling (hit too hard and you lose access, get too chummy and you lose self-respect), is gradually drifting toward a cynical, old-pro objectivity as the political machine that has run the city for decades applies dirty tricks and brute force to manage an incipient race riot in the days after the June 1968 assassination of Bobby Kennedy.         (Illustration - Alain Pilon)
But we’ve met this Quinn before — as a small boy in 1936, deeply stirred as he wakes to a casual jam between the stride pianist Cody Mason and the visiting Bing Crosby (Quinn’s father, George, everybody’s pal in Albany, provides the piano), and we know he’s got soul. We’ve also seen him on a wild hayride in the poisonous Havana of 1957, trading quips with Ernest Hemingway at the Floridita bar and falling in love with the wealthy, quixotic Renata Suárez Otero, up to her beautiful neck in a doomed attempt to assassinate the dictator Fulgencio Batista. Renata is educated, connected and serious in her devotion to Santeria, with its jealous, volatile gods and goddesses.
Much of the stylistic tension in the book results from Renata’s relationship with Quinn, whose Irish-American fatalism runs counter to her overheated Cuban idealism and produces exchanges of the snappy, ’40s-movie variety.
Full review at New York Times