Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Luffing to Cuba: Michael Henry’s First “Non-Fiction” Book

 

I am not often at a loss for words, but in reading Michael Henry’s Luffing to Cuba, I find myself somewhat confounded. Part of that may be the Coda with which he finishes the book. Part is also the extreme changes to life we have experienced in the year since his adventure.

Michael Henry is a writer of many parts. Here on Ricochet he has often shared humorous fiction based on politics. They tend to be very light pieces. His fictional novels are mostly legal thrillers. They are serious in content, although there is often light banter between characters and light moments within the novels. I have commented before that his Willie Mitchell Banks character muddles through the stories rather than being the lantern-jawed tough guy who knows all the answers. Luffing to Cuba falls somewhere between the two while also being mostly non-fiction. Or perhaps I should say that it is non-fiction with flights of fancy interjected throughout. While in a way being of a piece and on the spectrum of his other writing, it has a very different feel, since the people and events are real.

Part of the difference is that a novel or short humorous piece of writing has a goal. A travelogue is more of a record of things that happened on a trip and can be a mishmash of impressions and adventures that in the end return the author home, perhaps changed somewhat, perhaps not changed at all.

In Luffing to Cuba, there are a handful or more of sections depending on how one divides it up. My own division would be the introduction, getting the sailing vessel to Florida, the interlude where they fly back home and Michael speaks more on the subject of his neighbor who owns the sailing vessel, the assembly of the crew and problems before the race, the race, three days in Cuba, and then the trip back home. However one divides it, it is both a fun ride along with an unknowledgeable amateur in a sailing race and a look at Cuba from a fairly average American’s perspective.

The views of Cuba are particularly poignant at this time with so many of us locked away in the CoViD gulag of our homes, praying to find toilet paper in our brief scavenging forays abroad. We have to put up with this for a few months for reasons of contagious disease. Cuba has suffered under the contagious disease of communism for more than sixty years.

The half-page coda is sad and makes the travelogue all the more real. It contains an event that is easily searchable on the Internet to come up with the obituaries and news stories.

It’s not a long book, about thirty thousand words. Were it fiction, it would be considered novella length. It’s well worth the read for the strange fugues into Michael’s mind’s inner workings and for the turns of phrase and descriptions, such as his saying that a modern cruise ship loomed over Habana’s Old Town section like a Death Star. It is as much a travelogue of his mind as of his trip to Cuba.

Michael has made this book available for a few days for free, and while Amazon doesn’t list the normal price after one has acquired a Kindle book, I believe the usual price is $2.99. Even if you get in after the give-away, it’s worth the price for the laughs and insights.

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  1. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    May I be the first to welcome you back, @arahant! You have been sorely missed these past few weeks. 

    • #1
    • March 29, 2020, at 8:22 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  2. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    It’s a Sunday. One gets Sundays and feast days off during Lent, @judgemental.

    • #2
    • March 29, 2020, at 8:23 AM PDT
    • 12 likes
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    May I be the first to welcome you back, Arahant! You have been sorely missed these past few weeks.

    Thank you. Just back for a little bit. I promised Michael I’d take a look at his latest effort, so here I am. Then I shall be gone again until April.

    • #3
    • March 29, 2020, at 8:26 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  4. The Reticulator Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    May I be the first to welcome you back, Arahant! You have been sorely missed these past few weeks.

    Thank you. Just back for a little bit. I promised Michael I’d take a look at his latest effort, so here I am. Then I shall be gone again until April.

    OK, in that case I won’t welcome you back just yet. Thanks for the review, though.

    • #4
    • March 29, 2020, at 8:32 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  5. PHCheese Member

    I have many of Michael’s books and will certainly give this a read. Thanks Arahant and thanks Michael.

    • #5
    • March 29, 2020, at 8:38 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  6. Judge Mental Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    It’s a Sunday. One gets Sundays and feast days off during Lent, judgemental.

    Well, as the Lent sheriff of Ricochet,I have to ask about yesterday.

    • #6
    • March 29, 2020, at 8:45 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  7. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Judge Mental, Secret Chimp (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    It’s a Sunday. One gets Sundays and feast days off during Lent, judgemental.

    Well, as the Lent sheriff of Ricochet,I have to ask about yesterday.

    I believe it was Friday. Just helping out a friend.

    • #7
    • March 29, 2020, at 8:46 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  8. PHCheese Member

    I am currently in discussions with a boat broker in Roatan Honduras about a boat. Probably nothing will come of it but I possibly could be in the Caribbean myself on a boat.

    • #8
    • March 29, 2020, at 8:51 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. The Reticulator Member

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    I am currently in discussions with a boat broker in Roatan Honduras about a boat. Probably nothing will come of it but I possibly could be in the Caribbean myself on a boat.

    As a self-isolation measure? 

    • #9
    • March 29, 2020, at 8:52 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. PHCheese Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    I am currently in discussions with a boat broker in Roatan Honduras about a boat. Probably nothing will come of it but I possibly could be in the Caribbean myself on a boat.

    As a self-isolation measure?

    No I’ll take MrsCheese if she is good. Actually I wouldn’t think I could get down there until this COVID-19 thing is resolved. Come to think of it I don’t want to go anywhere until it is.

    • #10
    • March 29, 2020, at 9:27 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Light is good. Right now light is preferable. 

    • #11
    • March 29, 2020, at 9:44 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Percival (View Comment):

    Light is good. Right now light is preferable.

    Don’t read the Coda.

    • #12
    • March 29, 2020, at 9:45 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. Suspira Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    It’s a Sunday. One gets Sundays and feast days off during Lent, @judgemental.

    It’s surprising how many people don’t know this.

    • #13
    • March 29, 2020, at 10:29 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. Suspira Member

    Just snagged it for my Kindle. Thanks for the tip.

    • #14
    • March 29, 2020, at 10:30 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Suspira (View Comment):

    Just snagged it for my Kindle. Thanks for the tip.

    Just spreading the Michael Henry virus. 😈😜🤣

    • #15
    • March 29, 2020, at 10:34 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. Mark Camp Member

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    I am currently in discussions with a boat broker in Roatan Honduras about a boat. Probably nothing will come of it but I possibly could be in the Caribbean myself on a boat.

    What kind? 

    (Cool your solid-fuel boosters, people! I bought the Ricochet Thread Hijack 10 coupon book. After I use one for this, I will still have 9 Hijacks left, to talk boats on this thread with PHCheese. What was this thread about again, by the way?)

    • #16
    • March 29, 2020, at 11:05 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  17. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Mark Camp (View Comment):
    What was this thread about again, by the way?

    Boats and mojitos and Cuban cigars.

    • #17
    • March 29, 2020, at 11:09 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  18. Tree Rat Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):
    What was this thread about again, by the way?

    Boats and mojitos and Cuban cigars.

    And free stuff. Don’t forget free. Free is good. I like free.

    That’s what New Hampshire is all about, right? Live free, then die?

    • #18
    • March 29, 2020, at 11:17 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  19. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Tree Rat (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):
    What was this thread about again, by the way?

    Boats and mojitos and Cuban cigars.

    And free stuff. Don’t forget free. Free is good. I like free.

    That’s what New Hampshire is all about, right? Live free, then die?

    Yes, free books, yet. How could life get better?

    • #19
    • March 29, 2020, at 11:34 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. Mark Camp Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Tree Rat (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):
    What was this thread about again, by the way?

    Boats and mojitos and Cuban cigars.

    And free stuff. Don’t forget free. Free is good. I like free.

    That’s what New Hampshire is all about, right? Live free, then die?

    Yes, free books, yet. How could life get better?

    I forgot to say, good to have me back again. Tomorrow won’t be the same without you. A little better maybe, but not the same.

    = = = = = = = =

    Footnotes.

    I forgot to say, good to have me back again.

    A welcome-back-for-the-day to @Arahant. It makes no sense, so stop trying to figure it out. We just happen to be watching an old Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers flick on CQN (COVID Quarantine Network) and Fred spoke this great line. I’ve got to remember it, for when it will actually be appropriate and witty.

    Ricochet’s many speed-readers may want to read it again. Very. Slowly.

    Tomorrow won’t be the same without you. A little better maybe, but not the same.

    No one will mistake this for serious. I hope! As Milton Friedman said, “We are all Arahantists now.”

    • #20
    • March 29, 2020, at 11:49 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  21. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Thanks for the review, Arahant.

    • #21
    • March 29, 2020, at 12:50 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. PHCheese Member

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    I am currently in discussions with a boat broker in Roatan Honduras about a boat. Probably nothing will come of it but I possibly could be in the Caribbean myself on a boat.

    What kind?

    (Cool your solid-fuel boosters, people! I bought the Ricochet Thread Hijack 10 coupon book. After I use one for this, I will still have 9 Hijacks left, to talk boats on this thread with PHCheese. What was this thread about again, by the way?)

    Hatteras 43 MY. If I buy it and if I bring it back to Charleston I would go through Havana . Therefore I didn’t hijack the post about taking a boat to Havana. MrsCheese says we’re too old but…

    • #22
    • March 29, 2020, at 1:27 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. MichaelHenry Contributor

    Arahant: Thanks for reading LUFFING and for taking time out of your Lenten exile to post the thoughtful review, which is more cerebral and analytical than my travelogue. You could easily be a professional critic, but I guess there’s already enough of us/those on Ricochet. I appreciate all the Ricochettis who have downloaded and hopefully give it a go. LUFFING was the most fun I’ve ever had writing. In light of the tragic ending to the story, perhaps I should take it as a reminder how short life is and henceforth write only things that are fun to write. I really appreciate your comments, and I will pray to my Guy, God the Father, that you will not be made to suffer eternal damnation. But even if you do, it probably will not seem to last as long as the Coronavirus forced isolation. And on the bright side, you’ll meet a lot of interesting people down there.

    • #23
    • March 29, 2020, at 1:51 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  24. Mark Camp Member

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    I am currently in discussions with a boat broker in Roatan Honduras about a boat. Probably nothing will come of it but I possibly could be in the Caribbean myself on a boat.

    What kind?

    (Cool your solid-fuel boosters, people! I bought the Ricochet Thread Hijack 10 coupon book. After I use one for this, I will still have 9 Hijacks left, to talk boats on this thread with PHCheese. What was this thread about again, by the way?)

    Hatteras 43 MY. If I buy it and if I bring it back to Charleston I would go through Havana . Therefore I didn’t hijack the post about taking a boat to Havana. MrsCheese says we’re too old but…

    PH,

    Looks like a great boat! Great manufacturer. Best wishes for a reasonable and hasty cave-in by MrsCheese.

    Now, I couldn’t help noticing that it doesn’t have a mast. But on the plus side, you won’t ever be LUFFING as you make Cuba. Tell MrsCheese that I’m sure MrsCamp would cave in to my own boaty proposal if it weren’t for HEELING, which this very well-equipped, comfortable stin__ot, and I say that in the nicest way, will never do, even in a fresh breeze.

    • #24
    • March 29, 2020, at 2:06 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  25. PHCheese Member

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    I am currently in discussions with a boat broker in Roatan Honduras about a boat. Probably nothing will come of it but I possibly could be in the Caribbean myself on a boat.

    What kind?

    (Cool your solid-fuel boosters, people! I bought the Ricochet Thread Hijack 10 coupon book. After I use one for this, I will still have 9 Hijacks left, to talk boats on this thread with PHCheese. What was this thread about again, by the way?)

    Hatteras 43 MY. If I buy it and if I bring it back to Charleston I would go through Havana . Therefore I didn’t hijack the post about taking a boat to Havana. MrsCheese says we’re too old but…

    PH,

    Looks like a great boat! Great manufacturer. Best wishes for a reasonable and hasty cave-in by MrsCheese.

    Now, I couldn’t help noticing that it doesn’t have a mast. But on the plus side, you won’t ever be LUFFING as you make Cuba. Tell MrsCheese that I’m sure MrsCamp would cave in to my own boaty proposal if it weren’t for HEELING, which this very well-equipped, comfortable stin__ot, and I say that in the nicest way, will never do, even in a fresh breeze.

    No luffing for sure but tight on fuel on the Cancun to Havana leg. We haven’t boated in the Caribbean so if she caves I have much planing to do. Thanks for the best wishes. I had a friend that went to Cuba on his own boat so when the time comes I’ll pick his brain.

    • #25
    • March 29, 2020, at 2:21 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  26. Mark Camp Member

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    but tight on fuel on the Cancun to Havana leg.

    I could be one of those who say, “what did we tell you?” and bring up the unpleasant subject of much quieter boats with finer sheerlines and infinite MPG that were crying for buyers to take them to Charleston, but I am not that kind of person. 

    • #26
    • March 29, 2020, at 2:38 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  27. PHCheese Member

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    but tight on fuel on the Cancun to Havana leg.

    I could be one of those who say, “what did we tell you?” and bring up the unpleasant subject of much quieter boats with finer sheerlines and infinite MPG that were crying for buyers to take them to Charleston, but I am not that kind of person.

    If it were only that simple. All boats are a compromise. No way MrsCheese is young enough for a blow boat and she is 4 years younger than me. I have a couple of back up boats in mind . One is in Alabama connected to the Tenn Tom waterway. Not as sexy a trip but I wouldn’t lose MrsCheese overboard. We could stay inshore except for 170 miles in the Gulf.

    • #27
    • March 29, 2020, at 2:53 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. Mark Camp Member

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    but tight on fuel on the Cancun to Havana leg.

    I could be one of those who say, “what did we tell you?” and bring up the unpleasant subject of much quieter boats with finer sheerlines and infinite MPG that were crying for buyers to take them to Charleston, but I am not that kind of person.

    I have a couple of back up boats in mind . One is in Alabama connected to the Tenn Tom waterway. Not as sexy a trip but I wouldn’t lose MrsCheese overboard. We could stay inshore except for 170 miles in the Gulf.

    Every trip on a boat is a sexy trip. An inland and Gulf voyage sounds very exciting.

    If it were only that simple. All boats are a compromise. No way MrsCheese is young enough for a blow boat and she is 4 years younger than me.

    Compromise is why they invented sailing catamarans. But yeah, I understand. A hole in the water that is not a compromise has never been dug; you have to pick, and then you have to let go and let it give you the good experiences that it has in store for you, not some other experiences with the other limitations they bring along.

    I’m about out of Hijack coupons so I think I’ll go read Michael’s book before he jacks up the price.

    • #28
    • March 29, 2020, at 3:51 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  29. PHCheese Member

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    but tight on fuel on the Cancun to Havana leg.

    I could be one of those who say, “what did we tell you?” and bring up the unpleasant subject of much quieter boats with finer sheerlines and infinite MPG that were crying for buyers to take them to Charleston, but I am not that kind of person.

    I have a couple of back up boats in mind . One is in Alabama connected to the Tenn Tom waterway. Not as sexy a trip but I wouldn’t lose MrsCheese overboard. We could stay inshore except for 170 miles in the Gulf.

    Every trip on a boat is a sexy trip. An inland and Gulf voyage sounds very exciting.

    If it were only that simple. All boats are a compromise. No way MrsCheese is young enough for a blow boat and she is 4 years younger than me.

    Compromise is why they invented sailing catamarans. But yeah, I understand. A hole in the water that is not a compromise has never been dug; you have to pick, and then you have to let go and let it give you the good experiences that it has in store for you, not some other experiences with the other limitations they bring along.

    I’m about out of Hijack coupons so I think I’ll go read Michael’s book before he jacks up the price.

    Yes I am in the middle of another book and can’t wait to read Michael’s book.

     

    • #29
    • March 29, 2020, at 5:01 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  30. Arahant Member
    Arahant

    Thanks for the entertainment, Gents. Read Michael’s book. It’s mostly fun. I’ll see y’all after Easter.

    • #30
    • March 29, 2020, at 7:23 PM PDT
    • 3 likes