News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Dayton Daily News feature article


This morning's Sunday paper brought an exciting bit of news to our doorstep. I was delighted to see an article in the Dayton Daily News by literary beat reporter Sharon Short featuring my fourth novel, The Skinny Years.

"Raul says that writers 'have to love the process more than the reward.'" 

Sharon Short is a accomplished author with four titles to her credit including her most recent, My One Square Inch of Alaska.

It is always a pleasure to be recognized close to home. As Mark Twain purportedly said: "An expert is just some fellow from another town."





SYNOPSIS:
Surfers, soul brothers, hippies, and thugs — they’re all part of Victor “Skinny” Delgado’s world growing up in Miami during the turbulent 1960s. Fleeing the Castro regime in Cuba, Skinny’s once-wealthy family moves from a mansion in Havana to a roach-infested bungalow in Miami’s low-rent Wynwood district. Over the next ten years the Delgados struggle to survive in this strange new land—a place where fat men in red suits enter your home through the chimney, demons appear at the door begging for candy, and young women go on dates without chaperones. There’s only one constant in Skinny's world as he grows from 8 to 18. He longs in vain for the girl of his dreams: his neighbor Janice Bockman who seems everything American—and everything he’s not.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Books and Books at The Studios of Key West


Many thanks to everyone who stopped by the event for THE SKINNY YEARS at Books & Books at the Studios of Key West this evening. 

We had a nice turnout and a lot of fun. Great discussing the book alongside Anthony J. Yaniz and Tony Mendez, my Wynwood homies. This had to be be the most gratifying event of my time as an author. 

The staff was wonderful... friendly, helpful, and supportive. An author could not ask for more.







SYNOPSIS:
Surfers, soul brothers, hippies, and thugs — they’re all part of Victor “Skinny” Delgado’s world growing up in Miami during the turbulent 1960s. Fleeing the Castro regime in Cuba, Skinny’s once-wealthy family moves from a mansion in Havana to a roach-infested bungalow in Miami’s low-rent Wynwood district. Over the next ten years the Delgados struggle to survive in this strange new land—a place where fat men in red suits enter your home through the chimney, demons appear at the door begging for candy, and young women go on dates without chaperones. There’s only one constant in Skinny's world as he grows from 8 to 18. He longs in vain for the girl of his dreams: his neighbor Janice Bockman who seems everything American—and everything he’s not.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Key West Event at Books & Books


Friday, January 6 at 6pm
Books and Books at The Studios of Key West
533 Eaton St, Key West, FL 33040

One week from today... starts the first of three South Florida events for my 4th novel, THE SKINNY YEARS. 

If you are in Key West on Friday January 6th, I hope you can join me at Books & Books in The Studios of Key West. Festivities begin at 6PM and will include a 60s Trivia Quiz with prizes.

Co-hosting the event will be my childhood friend and former Key West city commissioner Anthony J. Yaniz whose family inspired several characters in the book.


You'll find more details about the event here: http://tinyurl.com/Skinny-Years-SoFla








SYNOPSIS:
Surfers, soul brothers, hippies, and thugs — they’re all part of Victor “Skinny” Delgado’s world growing up in Miami during the turbulent 1960s. Fleeing the Castro regime in Cuba, Skinny’s once-wealthy family moves from a mansion in Havana to a roach-infested bungalow in Miami’s low-rent Wynwood district. Over the next ten years the Delgados struggle to survive in this strange new land—a place where fat men in red suits enter your home through the chimney, demons appear at the door begging for candy, and young women go on dates without chaperones. There’s only one constant in Skinny's world as he grows from 8 to 18. He longs in vain for the girl of his dreams: his neighbor Janice Bockman who seems everything American—and everything he’s not.

EDITORIAL REVIEWS

"Gritty and witty. A complex, humorous, and utterly absorbing coming-of-age tale."
(Five-star rated) Foreword Reviews - Monica Carter

"Vivid, engaging, well-paced, with compelling characters. A terrific book.”
Ralph Keyes, best-selling author of Is There Life After High School?

"An uplifting and entertaining tale."
Vick Mickunas, host of Book Nook on NPR/WYSO

"Illuminates, with grace and wit, both one boy's passage and the complex story of Cuba's exiles."
John Thorndike, author The Last of His Mind

"Readers will love the characters, the fast pace, and the realistic setting that frames the story. It’s an emotionally packed coming of age tale that is destined to be a classic. "
Maria Ferrer, Latina Book Club (Book of the Month selection)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Going steady

Number 7 in a series of excerpts from The Skinny Years.

Going steady with a girl usually meant listening to the radio together in her living room and maybe sneaking a peck on the lips before going home. Although Skinny was still stuck in “friend” limbo with Janice, their relationship wasn’t much different—except for the kissing. That furtive brushing of the lips was the momentous line of demarcation between friend and boyfriend.





SYNOPSIS:
Surfers, soul brothers, hippies, and thugs — they’re all part of Victor “Skinny” Delgado’s world growing up in Miami during the turbulent 1960s. Fleeing the Castro regime in Cuba, Skinny’s once-wealthy family moves from a mansion in Havana to a roach-infested bungalow in Miami’s low-rent Wynwood district. Over the next ten years the Delgados struggle to survive in this strange new land—a place where fat men in red suits enter your home through the chimney, demons appear at the door begging for candy, and young women go on dates without chaperones. There’s only one constant in Skinny's world as he grows from 8 to 18. He longs in vain for the girl of his dreams: his neighbor Janice Bockman who seems everything American—and everything he’s not.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Last Journey of The Three Kings


[An excerpt from THE SKINNY YEARS]

Skinny opened the Christmas songbook he’d brought home from school and pointed to the smiling fat man on the first page. “This is Santa Claus, Abuela. That’s who I was telling you about,” he said to his grandmother.

Sitting beside Abuela on the living room’s frayed couch, Skinny was taking great pains to show her how Navidad was celebrated in America. The last thing Skinny wanted was a repeat of their first Thanksgiving.

Gathered around the table, their mouths watering, the family had watched anxiously as Juan began to carve the turkey. As the family’s guide to Thanksgiving, Skinny had explained this was always done by the man of the house. Abuela had basted the bird for hours and it was now golden brown and smelled like heaven—until Juan plunged the knife deeper. Suddenly, the acrid odor of burned plastic filled the air.

No one had told Abuela that American turkeys came stuffed with a plastic bag holding the neck, heart, liver, and gizzard.

That disastrous meal was now driving Skinny to make sure his family got Christmas right.

“In America, the Three Kings don’t bring children their Navidad presents—the presents come from Santa Claus,” he said slowly to Abuela, hoping it would sink in. “And children get their gifts on December twenty-fifth, not on the sixth of January like in Cuba.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Abuela said scowling. “Everyone knows the Three Kings brought the gifts for the baby Jesus in the manger, not someone who looks like Karl Marx after four shots of rum,” Abuela said, pointing to Santa. “Look at him. He’s got a beard like Castro and he’s wearing a red suit—that’s the color of the communists! My God, Victor. What are they teaching you in this country?”

Marta, who had been serving high tea to her dolls in the corner, perked up at the talk of presents. “Are the Three Kings coming soon?” she asked, remembering the bounty of toys during Navidad in Cuba.

“No, Marta,” Abuela answered. “In this country children get their gifts from a fat degenerate.”

Disgusted, Skinny slammed the book shut and stomped out of the living room, certain he’d be the only kid in the neighborhood without any gifts on Christmas morning. 
###




SYNOPSIS:
Surfers, soul brothers, hippies, and thugs — they’re all part of Victor “Skinny” Delgado’s world growing up in Miami during the turbulent 1960s. Fleeing the Castro regime in Cuba, Skinny’s once-wealthy family moves from a mansion in Havana to a roach-infested bungalow in Miami’s low-rent Wynwood district. Over the next ten years the Delgados struggle to survive in this strange new land—a place where fat men in red suits enter your home through the chimney, demons appear at the door begging for candy, and young women go on dates without chaperones. There’s only one constant in Skinny's world as he grows from 8 to 18. He longs in vain for the girl of his dreams: his neighbor Janice Bockman who seems everything American—and everything he’s not.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Holiday Wish


IN THIS SEASON OF HOPE AND PEACE
MAY WE HAVE THE STRENGTH AND WISDOM
TO KEEP THE FAITH



A HOLIDAY WISH FROM
RAUL RAMOS Y SANCHEZ



Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Fighting against communism


An excerpt from THE SKINNY YEARS

Abuela let out a sharp, dry laugh. “Anyone who thinks Juan Delgado’s articles sucking up to Batista are ‘fighting against communism’ doesn’t know a donkey t*rd from a chocolate cupcake.”




SYNOPSIS:
Surfers, soul brothers, hippies, and thugs — they’re all part of Victor “Skinny” Delgado’s world growing up in Miami during the turbulent 1960s. Fleeing the Castro regime in Cuba, Skinny’s once-wealthy family moves from a mansion in Havana to a roach-infested bungalow in Miami’s low-rent Wynwood district. Over the next ten years the Delgados struggle to survive in this strange new land—a place where fat men in red suits enter your home through the chimney, demons appear at the door begging for candy, and young women go on dates without chaperones. There’s only one constant in Skinny's world as he grows from 8 to 18. He longs in vain for the girl of his dreams: his neighbor Janice Bockman who seems everything American—and everything he’s not.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Wynwood, 1959

Number 4 in a series of excerpts from The Skinny Years.

        About a half-mile inland on the cheap side of the bay, Wynwood was a tightly-packed grid of small houses and apartments—a low-rent area where the cooks, cabbies, mechanics, and maids whose labor greased Miami’s tourism machine rested their heads and raised their kids.





SYNOPSIS:
Surfers, soul brothers, hippies, and thugs — they’re all part of Victor “Skinny” Delgado’s world growing up in Miami during the turbulent 1960s. Fleeing the Castro regime in Cuba, Skinny’s once-wealthy family moves from a mansion in Havana to a roach-infested bungalow in Miami’s low-rent Wynwood district. Over the next ten years the Delgados struggle to survive in this strange new land—a place where fat men in red suits enter your home through the chimney, demons appear at the door begging for candy, and young women go on dates without chaperones. There’s only one constant in Skinny's world as he grows from 8 to 18. He longs in vain for the girl of his dreams: his neighbor Janice Bockman who seems everything American—and everything he’s not.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

He can push a broom, can't he?

Number 3 in a series of excerpts from The Skinny Years.

        “Be reasonable, mamá. Juan barely speaks English—and he’s a professor of Cuban law,” Alicia calmly explained. “Where could he find a job in this country?”
“He can push a broom, can’t he? You don’t need an American law degree to do that.”





SYNOPSIS:
Surfers, soul brothers, hippies, and thugs — they’re all part of Victor “Skinny” Delgado’s world growing up in Miami during the turbulent 1960s. Fleeing the Castro regime in Cuba, Skinny’s once-wealthy family moves from a mansion in Havana to a roach-infested bungalow in Miami’s low-rent Wynwood district. Over the next ten years the Delgados struggle to survive in this strange new land—a place where fat men in red suits enter your home through the chimney, demons appear at the door begging for candy, and young women go on dates without chaperones. There’s only one constant in Skinny's world as he grows from 8 to 18. He longs in vain for the girl of his dreams: his neighbor Janice Bockman who seems everything American—and everything he’s not.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Castro made Cuban-Americans exiles, not immigrants

There's one thing most people in the U.S. don't realize about Cuban-Americans. We are primarily exiles rather than immigrants. Many of us left, not for a better life, but to have a life at all. All the same, most Cuban-Americans now probably consider themselves fortunate that they were forced to leave. I certainly do. 

Oddly, my family did not come here fleeing Castro. On the contrary, my father was involved in Havana's urban underground trying to overthrow Castro's brutal and corrupt predecessor, Fulgencio Batista. Like Castro, Batista trampled human rights. His secret police kidnapped, tortured and at times executed political opponents. That's what led my mom to divorce my father and come here out of fear for her safety and mine in 1956. My mother also disdained the socialist ideology her husband had adopted.  

We did not lose property to Castro or had relatives jailed or executed after the revolution in 1959. Still, I feel a deep empathy for my fellow Cubans who did. Those kind of wounds do not heal easily. I can understand why they'd want to dance in the streets right now. But I don’t feel any joy knowing Castro is dead. Just relief... and hope.  

Maybe this time around we can have an “evolution” rather than a revolution in Cuba. Let’s liberate the Cuban people with Big Macs instead of bullets. Getting rid of the embargo is a first step. We traded bullets with China and Vietnam. Today we trade goods. 

Why should Cuba be any different?