The Havana Papers

Non-Fiction - Travel
63 Pages
Reviewed on 12/21/2014
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Michael Daly began writing on a typewriter and the originals of his first two manuscripts feel like braille to the touch. First published as a poet, his work has appeared in independent publications in Ontario, the United Kingdom, and New York. His short stories have appeared in The Golden Bat and Fuss Magazine. Michael’s first book The Havana Papers (BookBaby, 2014) follows the writer wandering the uneven cobblestone backstreets of Havana, Cuba with a broken 1958 Underwood portable typewriter in tow.

Michael lives in Kitchener, Ontario and is a co-producer and voice actor for the comedy podcast series Rodney Spitz, P.I, about a bumbling private investigator and his gang of misfit detectives who commit more crimes than they solve. Harkening back to the golden age of radio, Rodney Spitz, P.I. is available free on iTunes, Spreaker, Stitcher Radio, and wherever fine podcasts are found.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Faridah Nassozi for Readers' Favorite

The Havana Papers by Michael Daly is the author's narration of the exploration he did during his one-week stay in the city of Havana, discovering different parts of the city brought to its knees by the revolution. Michael Daly had traveled to Havana to write, but when he realized he could not do that at the moment, he decided to do with his eyes and camera what he could not do with his broken typewriter. Each day, he went to a different part of the city, walked the empty alleys and streets filled with destruction and desperation, while taking in the ruin that was post revolution Cuba. In this book, he narrates with great detail his experience while he walked the streets of a dead city filled with abandoned, bullet-riddled buildings and desperate inhabitants.

After reading The Havana Papers, I felt I had a vivid imagine of post revolution Cuba. Through Michael Daly's descriptive writing, I could clearly picture the destruction left behind by the revolution and feel the general gloomy cloud that hung over a country once filled with so much promise. Michael Daly gave a true description of what was left of Havana after the revolution and through the pages of this book you will walk the empty streets of Havana and see the city through his eyes. Each chapter takes you to a new part of the city and through these chapters, you discover more and more about the city that once was. He really did an incredible job of bringing his experiences to life and this book would be a great read for anyone looking to discover how the city of Havana looked after the revolution.

Jack Magnus

The Havana Papers is a non fiction travel book written by Michael Daly. The author, a Canadian, spent a week touring Havana. He travels relatively lightly with the exception of a typewriter from the 1950s which is damaged along the way and resists the author's efforts to fix it. The bus from the airport drops off a middle-aged couple at a beach resort that seems to have seen better times, and the author wonders if they'll survive the experience. His Cuba is quite different from that beach resort as he travels the inner city, accompanied by the ever-present tour guides who expect drinks and food as well as the ever-escalating tip. Daly shows us a number of historical sites, including the house where Hemingway wrote, where he ponders briefly taking the typewriter that still sits in Hemingway's shrine-like room to replace his own broken one.

Daly's travelogue, The Havana Papers, is filled with haunting and melancholic images that flit across the reader's vision as the author takes his last puff on a cigarette back home and proceeds on his tropical journey. The author's Havana is filled with grifters, shells of condominiums and vacant hotels, rutted alleys and rust. His choice of writing tool, a revolution-era typewriter, seems a metaphor for this work that speaks only of failure and need while acknowledging briefly the brutality of the regime that was toppled all those years ago. Daly's interactions with Cubans seem likewise limited to grifters who mostly turn out to be parents trying to get just a few pesos more for food for their children, and his nights seem filled with rum and ice and solitude. As he travels back to the airport and the driver picks up the glowing couple from their beach resort holiday, Daly wonders about the week he would have had staying there, and I found myself wondering the very same thing. I'd like to see the story he tells then. The Havana Papers is recommended reading.