The plot of Three Trapped Tigers is conceived as a nightclub show, introduced by the frenetic multilingual wordplay of the emcee of the famous Tropicana cabaret in Havana. His first word is “Showtime!”; his last ones are “Curtains up!” At this point a number of characters, some of them present in the club and introduced by the emcee, narrate sections of the text, with no further introduction or explanation. There is a one-sided telephone conversation, a letter, a story appearing as a series of fragments placed at various points in the text, and another story in two translations (only in the Spanish original) and complete with “corrections” by the author’s wife, who turns out to be a fictional creation of her husband. There are even fragments of a woman’s sessions with a psychiatrist. The author has said that the text consists of a series of “voices,” and that voices have no biography, which means that the only possible coherence results from the reader’s ability to assemble the fragments into a more or less meaningful whole.
There is a certain symmetry to the fragments, in that several characters, stories, and themes introduced in the first half are mirrored in the second, in some cases approximately the same distance from the end as their initial appearance is from the beginning. Thus, a story of Silvestre in which he and his brother witness a murder on the way to the cinema is related by him to his friend Arsenio Cué near...
(The entire section is 502 words.)