Essay, Research Paper
The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
By: Oscar Hijuelo
Harper Collins Publishers 1989
(No Bibliography, Pics, Maps or Index)
The book that I read was rather pornographic. It was a story about 2 brothers and
6 other people who put together a band and played in clubs almost every night. After
playing their gigs, they?d go off and get drunk and then go sleep with about 4 different
girls every night. None of them were settled down because they always were going
places and meeting new people. They started their band in a place called Havana, Cuba.
They were very unknown until they met a guy at a bar one night named Desi Arnaz. He
offered them a contract and signed them with jobs in the United States. So being young
and free, they left with almost nothing to start their new life in the states. The first place
they went to, which was later their favorite place, was Miami, Florida. They played in
clubs late at night still bringing girls back to their hotel rooms. They started to get
Oscar Hijuelos was the author of the book The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
and also the book called Our House in the Last World. Oscar was born in 1951 in the
city of Havana, Cuba and was born to both Cuban parents. He now currently lives in
I do like how the author wrote this book basically because it was easy reading. It
was very long in some parts, but you could understand it easily. It never left you feeling
as if you didn?t understand a part. He wrote in sections and not chapters. There were
only 3 sections in the book and so it was easier to follow because he didn?t have to keep
starting a new chapter. I read this book by dividing it into how many pages I?d read each
day. I had to read about 28 pages in it a day and I kept that promise to myself. I read
every day and I got the book done on time. In each section of the book, the author started
off in a new club. He started it off at a different time every time. He had it start off one
time at 11:23pm in a nightclub in Miami, and the other ones at 11:57pm and 12:02am.
The brothers always seemed to be at a nightclub whether or not they were playing that
night. The always got drunk and I liked how the author would show you just how drunk
they were by their actions.
I believe that there are actually two stories going on in this book. And they are
about the same group of people. Because one of the stories is being told to you as the
lives of musicians who go about their daily lives in the daytime, but then become drunk
and sleazy at night when they go off and play in clubs. They always talk about wanting
to settle down with a woman and have a family, but then at night, they go off and stay out
until about 4am with a bunch of girls after playing in a smoke-filled room with a bunch
of drunken men.
?Like his music, the Mambo King was very direct in those days. He and Vanna
Vane had just been out to dinner at the club Babalu and Cesar said to her, as she chewed
on a piece of plantain fritter, ?Vanna, I?m in love with you, and I want a chance to show
you what it?s like to be with a man like me.?? Just on that quote, it initiates the fact that
even the Mambo King wanted to get settled down. But right after that quote, she said no
to him and so he went and slept with some stripper he met in a bar that night. Another
quote that describes how they are at night is this one, ?I saw her. A woman with a broken
leg in a cast, standing up in a phone booth during a rainstorm in Atlantic City, the gales
whipping against the glass, things so dark around them nobody could see, so that in the
ferocity of the winds they started to kiss, his knee pressing between her legs, and this
woman saying to hell with it and pulling up her sun skirt and down with her panties,
down over her legs and down over the thick plaster cast, so that he lifted her up onto him
and she leaned back against the wall, laughing and thinking, This man is insane,
laughing and seeing stars while people outside looked like zigzagged pencil doodles
running through the deluge.? The boys acted like this every night.
I don?t really like how this whole book was basically nothing but sex talk. This
author must have had a lot on his mind while writing it, because he wrote very seldom
about the daytime and when he did, he?d write about the Mambo King and his band
finding some girl in an alleyway that they?d like to have sex with later that night. And
when he was writing about the nighttime, he?d give these very clear-imaged details that I
really didn?t want to hear about. I can?t really say as to why I think he wrote about all of
this because I couldn?t find barely any information on him except what I already knew.
He grew up in a good household with good parents as what I?ve heard, so I?m not really
sure as to how he got so much ?sex-influencing talk? inside of him.
I didn?t really learn much from this book just because it was a fiction story. It
started off in the city of Havana, Cuba, but the Mambo King and his band then left
shortly after to go to the United States, and so they were in the states most of the time.
Also, they didn?t talk much about their locations. They stayed in Miami for a really long
time and when they did travel, Oscar just said that they were traveling on ?the road.? But
other than that, I know a little bit about the culture of Havana now because he talked
about his homeland a few times, and the culture of it.