by Greg Walkin
The conflict in these tales centers on the complexity that being Cuban endows on those who have left the island—the way they tend to gravitate to whatever identity they have left behind, or how to pack it up and forge ahead—what Objeas has called “the issue of rupture, of belonging then not belonging.” Nowhere is that perhaps more apparent than in “The Cola of Oblivion,” a brief punch of a tale that centers on a lonely dinner in an empty Cuban restaurant, involving a “visitor”—whose parents had taken her from Cuba—and a family who had remained behind to “jump up and down” for the regime. Initially jarring (in a good way), it doesn’t feature a character directly who had emigrated, but delves into the contrast between Cubans and Cuban-Americans, and so explores that “rupture.” It’s the kind of story that gets better with each read. At the end, the family eventually proposes a sham marriage in order to help them abscond, too. “Your mother,” one of them tells the visitor, “never sent a single vitamin…not a single can of meat or iPod, not a single anything.” One can imagine this was only the beginning of the possible remonstrations.