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Author Cristina Garcia next ABR speaker

By Carolina Astrain
April 8, 2013 at 6:02 p.m.
Updated April 8, 2013 at 11:09 p.m.

A desire to break free from the writing constraints of journalism lured Cuban-American author Cristina Garcia, 54, away from the newsroom and into a world of fiction.

"I just felt that the stories I wanted to tell couldn't be contained in the 150 lines," Garcia said. "There were so much more subtleties and backstories that really couldn't be written down in a typical newspaper or magazine piece."

The novelist and former Time magazine writer will read from her collection of Cuba-inspired novels and talk about her ventures through fiction Thursday as part of the University of Houston-Victoria's American Book Review Reading Series.

Garcia had spent two weeks in Cuba before she started writing her first novel, "Dreaming in Cuban," which was published in 1992.

"Those two weeks really galvanized my own interest in Cuba's history and what happened during the revolution," Garcia said.

The intimately written prose follows the lives of Celia del Pino and her family members from varying generations and points in their lives.

Celia is a young woman aching for revolution and escaping her in-laws, who taunt and mock her at any free moment.

Her sister-in-law makes a claim on Celia's clothing after she learns Celia is pregnant with her first child.

A string of love letters chronicles Celia's undying love for a Spaniard she met before marrying her husband.

Felicia, Celia's second daughter, goes into a manic rage after her husband gives her syphilis after his travels overseas.

She attempts to burn him alive as their children watch.

Garcia's characters are beautiful, troubled creatures grappling with the side effects of a budding revolution in Cuba.

"They're not based on real-life accounts," Garcia said. "But there is a kind of a loose association and inspiration for the characters from women in my own family."

Garcia said she made a lot of the stories up.

"When you're writing fiction, you take all kinds of liberties," Garcia said. "I don't hold myself back when I'm writing fiction."

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