Carlos E. León
Benjamin, when dying is more sensible than waiting, is a book written from pain and love; antipodes that only together are capable of exploding in a major tone -musically speaking-, just as the character and the family we are dealing with could do. But it is also a book written from honesty and truth.
Carolina de la Torre Molina -and both surnames are worth it-, has known how to tell this novel-witness story with a balanced and eloquent verb. It integrates from the narrative to the deepest quotes: the memories of her mother and her brother’s friends -a beautiful group of those days-; it sails from its narrative placement from “first balcony” to swimming in a sea of vivid, huge and vital memories. It is quite complicated for someone who writes, who is an accomplice of his story, to get out and enter it in an organic way. In my opinion, this is one of the many achievements of this book and its author.
It is not only a book against homophobia; it is several books. It is the story of any Cuban family that embraced the Revolution at the dawn of its triumph; it is also the story of the anguish of a wise Cuban -descendant of an important lineage for the sciences in our country- and of all that that family was able to contribute, even though it never lowered the flags of revolutionary progress -their descendants are still raising them. To go through those paragraphs is to remember, or to learn -and if possible to apprehend- that history of those 60s and 70s, which tend to be diluted and even lost in the popular imagination. It is the story told from below, from the angulation of the “defeated”, by that of which history is written by the victors, as is often said.
As the title of this review confirms, Benjamin was a boy from my neighborhood, his family lived around the corner from my house and our mothers were friends, supportive and sharing. For any family, at that time, having a child at UMAP was to have an unhappy and reticent focus on the house in question. I must say that my family never saw it that way. As years went by, after Benjamin’s suicide, I always had kindness and was welcomed by that family, I learned the best Colombian songs from Blanca Molina, with her unforgettable affection -without a hint of sadness in each chord, in each word, in each verse-; which cultivated in me the affection for the wise Alfredo de la Torre and the others who came, and who still inhabit that family tree. The book has such an impact that, after having known them for so many years, I managed to understand what I had missed in their real meaning. I believe then that a lay reader can embrace this book and take it to the bottom of his heart.
Moreover, the volume in question treasures the lyrics of Benjamin and his mother, those deep and irrefutable letters; those tremendous and overwhelming poems.
The dead of the Homeland, of all times, must be venerated and respected by all generations of worthy Cubans; the same ones who must continue to mourn their other dead, the results of the errors of the Revolution, which could have also been worthy and recognized Cubans. We also have to learn from the mistakes, it is a historical demand.