Dick Cluster

Little did I know how apt for this political moment my next book was going to be, though I wish I could say that wasn't so. “Kill the Ámpaya!: Best Latin American Baseball Fiction” tries to build bridges, not walls. . It features sixteen stories from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Mexico, all involving baseball from the point of view players or fans or announcers or gamblers or what-have-you, whether monologues or creation myths or historical or supernatural or other genres that may not have names. I ran into the Cuban stories first, at the Havana Book Fair of 2014, then set off to discover what else was out there in the other baseball-playing countries to our south. The book also includes an introduction about how our national pastime found its way to these other Americas, and the place it occupies in their cultures. It's due out in April 2017 from Mandel Vilar Press. I often feel that everything I write involves both mystery and translation.

My amateur detective character, foreign-car mechanic Alex Glauberman, is always “translating” what people say to him – turning lies, half-truths, and partial perceptions into a stereoscopic vision of what really went down and why. I never know the answer before I start one of these novels, nor who is lying or half-seeing or misremembering what. Part of the fun of writing them is finding out. As for literary translation, someone, somewhere called it the act of saying “I have a met a beautiful stranger whom I want to introduce to you." In my translations from Spanish, I’m bringing that mysterious stranger into your hands, your home.

“What seemed like mystery is only untold history,” as Jimmy Cliff once sang. For my history books, whether about American social movements or the city of Havana, the mystery is “what was it like and why was it like that?” The translation aspect (let's remember that “translate” comes from the Latin for “carry across”) is re-creating those realities across time and space. Speaking of time and space, I’m working on carrying Alex across that gulf. In the first three books he was an approaching-forty guy with a young child. Now I’m seeing him as an approaching-seventy guy whose daughter is trying to take charge of him. He’s also moved from Boston to Oakland (like me) – and as always, he’ll be doing some traveling, this time to Havana, he's telling me. I hope to be able to report more on that soon.