A Victory Cigar
Red Auerbach gets credit for the idea of the Victory Cigar. As coach of the Boston Celtics, Auerbach smoked a victory cigar whenever he thought a game was decided, a habit that became cult-like in popularity in the Boston area. He didn’t wait until the game was actually over and the buzzer had sounded to light up. No. He lit up while the game was still being played, when he knew that his team’s victory was assured. Back then, you could smoke in public buildings like the Boston Garden.
So today, I fired up a Victory Cigar of my own. In my backyard. My new, second novel, Tulum, isn’t entirely finished. It still needs some work. Some revisions. Some editing. Some cleaning up. But today was the big day. It was the day on which I first knew for sure that the end of my work on this book was within my reach. I think I will be finished later this week. The end is at long last, after more than five years of work, just ahead of me. I can actually sense it.
The idea for the book was ambitious. And innovative. And difficult to realize. And the manuscript isn’t perfect. The book has its flaws. It has its problems. But, for better or worse, I’ve now exhausted what I can do with it. It’s time to stop, to get it out, to have readers take over.
The book, set in Tulum in Mexico’s Yucatan and in Cuba, is at once a travelogue, a love story, and the story of the unlikely friendship of a Mayan Curandero and a middle aged, gringo expat with a shady past, who ultimately embarks, as an apprentice, on the path of becoming a Shaman. There will be no spoiler here. The book, drawn from the deep cenote of Magical Realism, adopts Carlos Fuentes’s guidance:
A writer should never know the whole story. He imagines one part and asks the reader to finish it. A book should never close. The reader should continue it.
And now, it is time to turn this project over. For better or worse, I have done my part. It’s time for the reader to continue the story.