I’ve spent all day reading over and over Orlando Ferrand’s Apologia: Cuban Childhood in My Backpack. I did not want it to end, for I felt at times that I was looking at myself in the mirror of his words. The story of millions of us Cubans make interesting, passionate Best Sellers, however the key to attract readers is to give it that touch, that dose of magic entangled with your very own reality…as troubled, as sour as that might be; which is what Orlando has always done in everything he sets out to do…whether is poetry, or fiction … or his take on the visual arts. It grabs you, and it does that on the first paragraph of this book. You are enthralled, captivated by this magician who writes with his guts …
When I began reading, and came across this …. I’ve always, since I can recall as far as back, to when I was a three-year old, been attracted to opposites, to what is different, to art and thinking in nonlinear ways…When I read this over and over, I felt connected…I’ve always felt this incredible connection with Orlando’s work. However, this is the story of a boy, in this case a Cuban boy, but it is the story of many boys and girls all over the Universe, and the dealings with the coming of age in a country where being different has a high price to pay. It is a beautifully told story, almost as if it were a movie being played in a small town rundown theater, as in Cinema Paradiso. The images come to me in sepia tones, but with such realism that when he mentions his Aunt Orquidea’s meringues, or the bubbling lights on their imported from Chicago Christmas Tree, you can almost touch them with your fingertips. While on this rollercoaster you also get a glimpse of major events in Cuban history told with honesty; the honesty of this boy who craves knowledge at every turn.
This is the kind of memoir that you keep near you on your night table… as a guide, as a sort of self help book, and go back in time to reread, for it not only heals the writer, but it soothes the souls of us readers who find common ground in this heartfelt story Orlando gives us in Apologia: Cuban Childhood in My Backpack.
I have experienced as far back as I can remember that writing heals… Orlando is on a mission to heal his wounds, some might be too deep to close with this book… He will probably try many more times, and I sure hope he does, for his kind of writing can heal many boys and girls out there, including myself.
March 6, 2012, Miami Fl