Thoughts Without Cigarettes by Oscar Hijuelos

Though I’ve never read any of Oscar Hijuelos’s fiction (not for lack of wanting to… I’ve always been interested in Hijuelos, it just hasn’t happened yet), I was deeply intrigued by his memoir Thoughts Without Cigarettes.  Hijuelos moved to the United States when he was just a young boy and Thoughts Without Cigarettes chronicles his life from before his birth, when his parents met, to his struggle for success as an adult and fiction writer. Though I have never read any of Hijuelos’s fiction, it’s clear to see through this memoir how fabulous of a writer he is. Some of my very favorite parts were in the beginning when he was talking about his visit to Cuba as a young boy. He gets across that dreamy reality that is a childhood memory so well.

A lot of times it feels as though you are reading fiction or even poetry, Hijuelos just has a talent for describing every day things with beautiful language that makes it seem unreal or better than reality. That’s not a complaint or a bad thing at all, in fact I love reading memoirs like this. Like I said in my post about Breaking Up with God, everyone has a story to tell, it’s just about how well you tell it. Hijuelos has a pretty remarkable story and he tells it brilliantly. When Hijuelos moves on from telling the story of his childhood this dreamy quality disappears a little bit, but rightfully so.

My biggest complaint is that this book is long, probably longer than a memoir needs to be and there certainly were parts that interested me more than others. It’s a difficult book to get into because the amount of detail, but I recommend picking up this book for an interesting story about finding your place in between two cultures, writing, and family.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for sending me a copy of this book to review! 

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4 thoughts on “Thoughts Without Cigarettes by Oscar Hijuelos

  1. The fact that the book reads (in parts) like fiction or like poetry definitely intrigues me – I love a well written book!

    Glad you enjoyed this one in spite of the flaws you pointed out. Thanks for being on the tour.

  2. I just finished reading this (in fact I have a TLC tour coming up) and I think it’s better appreciated if you have already read at least one of Hijuelos’ novels — particularily if it is The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. I hope you give that one a try sometime.

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