Foreword Reviews: “Cuba: This Moment, Exactly So”

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[Many thanks to Leslie Offutt for sharing this item.] In “Editor’s Choice Prize for Nonfiction: Cuba: This Moment, Exactly So” Howard Lovy (executive editor at Foreword Reviews) comments on a beautiful book by photographer Lorne Resnick, with text by Brian Andreas: Cuba: This Moment, Exactly So (2015). Here are excerpts from Lovy’s interview with Resnick:

Forget about leftover Cold War politics, forget about current political differences, forget about the cliché of “frozen-in-time” automobiles—and just look at the people. That’s what photographer Lorne Resnick did when he photographed Cuba over the past twenty years, and what he got was something much more alive, dynamic, magnetic, than anything you can read in a news story about the mysterious island nation.

Cuba: This Moment Exactly So, by Resnick, with stories by Brian Andreas, has won Foreword Reviews’ Editor’s Choice Prize in Nonfiction. The 250 photos are all “vivid, passionate and joyful,” according to our review of the book. “Arranged around thirty-two whimsical, poetic micro stories by Brian Andreas, this project will delight everyone.” I spoke to Resnick about his book, what it is about Cuba that kept him coming back, and now that Americans are rediscovering the country, what should they look for when they visit.

How did you work with your coauthor, Brian Andreas? Was it a separate process for each of you, or was there collaboration in blending text with photos?  Well, the short answer is that is was a collaborative process. But the longer answer and backstory is interesting as it sheds light onto how the book took the format it did.

A couple years before the book was finally published I began editing images and working on the book title. The title of the book was an extremely difficult process for me. I knew I wanted the title to be more lyrical than literal, more evocative than descriptive—to match the kind of images I was shooting. I wanted the book to reflect how Cuba feels, rather that how Cuba is. So, I started rereading a lot of great Cuban poetry. While I enjoyed the poetry I felt I had the same problem— nothing really clicked with the work, in terms of a possible title. And then I thought it really wasn’t necessary to restrict myself to Cuban poetry and that’s when I thought of Brian’s work. [. . .]

So, when I gave myself permission to look for poems outside Cuban poems, Brian’s work was an obvious first choice as I was already a big fan. I also felt his work had much in common with my work—it was very emotional and evocative rather than just descriptive. So, I started looking through his work and immediately found this story that I feel really represented my body of work on Cuba:

There is nothing more
I ask of this life than
this moment, exactly so
& suddenly, forever seems
Like too short a time.

And I felt the middle line—“this moment, exactly so”—really summed up my attitude about my photography, the images I have created in Cuba, and how I felt being in Cuba. I felt a lot of his stories were very evocative of the emotions I felt while I was in Cuba. From his work I found about eight stories that I felt would work really well with the images in the book. I asked him if he would consider creating about twenty new stories for the book based on the photos. He loved the idea. And then two seconds later I said I had a crazy idea: why didn’t he come to Cuba with me on one of my photo workshops and experience the country personally and then write the stories based on his experiences and my photos? The final story selection and image/story matching was done by me, along with an editor from my publisher. It was a very organic process with Brian, with a lot of back and forth and some tweaking of the stories to integrate them with the images and flow of the book. [. . .]

For full interview, see https://www.forewordreviews.com/blog/posts/editors-choice-prize-for-nonfiction-cuba-this-moment-exactly-so/

See more on the book at http://www.thiscuba.com/

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