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144 the minnesota review at times feel a Uttle left out. Those in the know, though, will have a great time all the way through. Krich's Fidel is a ludic Sartrean socialist who knows himself and the Revolution he leads and serves as two interconnected processes of historical becoming, fuU of sudden advances and retreats, surprises, and dirty tricks, all reenacted in his verbal performance as weU: Of course, the tallest tale is the Revolution itself. Call it a brag that got backed up, to the surprise of all, especiaUy the braggarts. But there are times to face the music, just as there are times to play it. I could have faked the production figures when we failed to achieve the Ten Million Ton Harvest. I should not have announced to all Cuba that our invasion from Mexico would come in 1956. Both times, my top cadre prayed I would choke on my overused tongue. They called me "their gossipping midwife of the Americas." My brother Raul, for one, swore that I could not recognize a state secret when I saw one. He was right; but so was I. [P- 4] From page to page, paragraph to paragraph, the book is full of such hijinx; if you've got the money, in fact, certain passages (Fidel's confession of his classically colonial crush on the U.S., or his antiphonal account of the night he and Che traded hates) are alone worth the paperback price of the book. Knowing self and situation as inextricably historical yet open, freedom as the consequence of the knowledge ofthe multipUcity of social determinations that have shaped us — this broadly marxist understanding of selfand world has rarely been seen as the raw material for affirmative comedy. Thanks to Fidel himself, and to Krich's linguistic virtuousity and standup comic's timing, we can, at least for the space of the performance, throw back our heads and laugh; and such laughter — who knows? — may itself be the sign of the maturation and deepening hold of historical materialism, even back in the U.S.A. FRED PFEIL Lucia Berlin, Angels Laundromat. Berkeley: Turtle Island, 1981 . 86 pp. $10 (cloth); $4.95 (paper). Kirsten Thorup, Baby, translated by Nadia Christensen. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1980. 208 pp. $9.95. "You can die here anytime," reads a sign in Angel's Laundromat, the setting of the title story in Lucia BerUn's beautiful coUection. The narrator, Lucia, has driven all over town to find a laundromat which will allow the use of its machines for dyeing. Discovering Angel's sign, Lucia begins to patronize the laundromat, which reminds her of the one in her old Puerto Rican neighborhood in New York. There, Mrs. Armitage, Lucia's elderly neighbor, always did her wash at the same time as Lucia: Thursday mornings. She had given Lucia a key to her apartment, saying that if she failed to show up one day it was because she had died and she wanted Lucia to go find the body. However, Lucia never fulfilled the request, for Mrs. Armitage "died on a Monday." (The true wash day.) At Angel's Laundromat, Lucia meets an old Apache Indian who always happens to be doing his wash at the same time as Lucia, no matter how odd the hour or day. Such coincidences in BerUn's stories are made to seem deeply meaningful and marvellous — in the original sense of the word. The title of the story and the volume is feUcitous, for it suggests the way Berlin characteristically infuses the miraculous into the most mundane aspects of daily Ufe. "Then we sat, quiet. No sound by the sloshy water, rhythmic as ocean waves. His Buddha hand held mine." Anyone who goes regularly to laundromats cannot help but be struck by the generosity impUcit in the intended meaning of the sign, "You can die here anytime." For, as Berlin wittily makes clear, laundromats, Uke society as a whole, are often extremely repressive: POSITIVELY NO DYING: DON'T OVER-LOAD THE MACHINES; NEVER LEAVE 145 reviews THE MACHINES UNATTENDED, etc. It comes as a (comic) reUefto see one ofthe usual prohibitions countermanded. Perhaps less obvious...


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