Tuesday, March 13, 2012


When your main character goes to Cuba sometimes you find yourself along for the ride. Looking at the surroundings a little more closely, perhaps.

The first few days my thoughts were about the wedding in the novel, the restaurants, the surroundings.

Then we went to Havana. It was an assault on the senses. There is the architecture, the seas, the tropical plants, the beautifully restored buildings. Then there are the broken and dilapidated houses. The blast of construction vehicles with no mufflers in narrow cobbled streets. A woman with a sleeping toddler begging for money.In the next street music, street performers, bright colours and dancing. The sweating crowds bump up against you, the cobble stones are rough under your feet. The touch of a cool mojito glass in a high ceiling bar where pictures of Hemingway adorn the walls. The scent of peppermint in your nose as you sip the drink. Back outside, another street, more construction, an overturned toilet, the smell of shit. It goes on like this with images and experiences constantly juxtaposed.

Returning to the resort exhausted after the twelve hour trip. The wind in the palm trees. The grit of the city in your clothes and in your hair, on your hands.

But you return after being stimulated in the most pleasantly unpleasant, beautifully ugly, aromatic stench, uplifting depressing assault on your sensibilities.

I don't know about you but I'm ready to write.

Garry Ryan taught for a little over thirty years in Calgary Public Schools.
His first published novel was Queen’s Park (2004). The second, The Lucky Elephant Restaurant (2006), won a 2007 Lambda Literary Award. A Hummingbird Dance (2008) and Smoked (2010) followed. Malabarista was released in September of 2011. In 2009, Ryan was awarded Calgary’s Freedom of Expression Award.


  1. Garry, you paint colour with words. I can see, smell, hear Havana. Looking forward to the book that comes out of this adventure.

  2. I agree with Mel. Terrific blog and I definitely want to read this book.