Â Â Â Â In the allusive cityscape he recreates, RodrÃguez JuliÃ¡ invokes the ghosts of his childhood, of San Juan's elder literati, and of characters from his own novels. On the most tangible level, the city is a place of cabarets and cockfighting clubs, flÃ¢neurs and beach bums, smoke-filled bars and honking automobiles. Poised between a colonial past and a commercial future, the San Juan he portrays feels at times perilously close to the pitfalls of modernization. Tenement houses and fading mansions yield to strip malls and Tastee Freezes; asphalt hems in jacarandas and palm trees. "In Puerto Rico," he muses, "life is not simply cruel, it is also busy erasing our tracks." Through this bookâavailable here in English for the first timeâRodrÃguez JuliÃ¡ resists that erasure, thoughtfully etching a palimpsest that preserves images of the city where he grew up and rejoicing in the one where he still lives.
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