A Cuban in Mayberry: Looking Back at America's Hometown by Gustavo Pérez Firmat
"This is, by far, the best volume about a single television show that I have ever read. . . . Not only is it the most thorough and informed treatment of The Andy Griffith Show available, it also provides many insights and contexts about 1960s television in general. I think, however, that it may find its greatest audience among general readers. . . . The rabid fans—and there are many of them—would consider this required reading, but many other more casual viewers who have a warm and nostalgic relationship to the show will also find it very appealing."
—Robert J. Thompson, founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture and Trustee Professor, S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University
"This 194-page book, the first book about The Andy Griffith Show in over twelve years, is the most scholarly book about the show to date. It's sure to be fascinating reading for the many devoted fans of the show, and is certain to expand any fan's knowledge of and appreciation for The Andy Griffith Show and what Mayberry means to all of us. And along the way, we might even learn some things about ourselves, too. So, for anyone who enjoys thinking about and understanding more about Mayberry, a description that likely fits most readers of this newsletter as much as any other community in the world, A Cuban in Mayberry is fascinating reading, maybe even essential. You probably won’t agree with all of Professor Pérez Firmat’s observations and conclusions about TAGS, but you’re sure to enjoy the journey. Professor Gustavo Pérez Firmat, you have no worries. You should know that you are heartily welcomed as a fellow citizen of Mayberry. In other words, 'Attaboy, Gus!'"
—From The E-Bullet, newsletter of The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club
"Once I took a look at the first few paragraphs, I couldn't put the book down. By the time I finished reading it, Pérez Firmat had convinced me that Mayberry—long regarded as an icon of the rural, pastoral, and nostalgic South—is also a special location on the cultural map of Cuban America. Fans of The Andy Griffith Show—and they are legion—will be thrilled by this smart, witty, and moving book."
—Jorge Olivares, Allen Family Professor of Latin American Literature, Colby College
Half a century after viewers first watched a father and son walking to the local fishing hole, whistling a simple, yet unforgettable, tune, The Andy Griffith Show remains one of the most popular sitcoms in the history of American television. Tens of millions of viewers have seen the show either in its original run, its ongoing reruns, on DVD, or on the internet. Websites devoted to the show abound, hundreds of fan clubs bring enthusiasts together, and a plethora of books and Mayberry-themed merchandise have celebrated all things Mayberry. A small cottage industry has even developed around the teachings of the show's episodes. But why does a sitcom from the 1960s set in the rural South still evoke such devotion in people today?
In A Cuban in Mayberry, acclaimed author Gustavo Pérez Firmat revisits America's hometown to discover the source of its enduring appeal. He approaches the show from a unique perspective—that of an exile who has never experienced the rootedness that Andy and his fellow Mayberrians take for granted, as folks who have never strayed from home or lived among strangers. As Pérez Firmat weaves his personal recollections of exile from Cuba with an analysis of the show, he makes a convincing case that the intimacy between person and place depicted in TAGS is the secret of its lasting relevance, even as he reveals the surprising ways in which the series also reflects the racial, generational, and political turbulence of the 1960s.
Gustavo Pérez Firmat was born in Havana, Cuba, and raised in Miami, Florida. He is best known for his memoir, Next Year in Cuba, available in Spanish as El año que viene estamos en Cuba, and for Life on the Hyphen, a study of Cuban-American culture, also available in Spanish as Vidas en vilo. His most recent book, A Cuban in Mayberry, is an affectionate and personal look at one of America’s best-loved TV shows, The Andy Griffith Show. He has also published several collections of poetry in English and Spanish—Scar Tissue, Cincuenta lecciones de exilio y desexilio, Bilingual Blues, Equivocaciones, Carolina Cuban—and a novel, Anything but Love. His books of literary and cultural criticism include The Havana Habit, Tongue Ties, The Cuban Condition, Literature and Liminality, and Idle Fictions. Newsweek included him among “100 Americans to watch for in the 21st century” and Hispanic Business Magazine selected him as one of the “100 most influential Hispanics” in the United States. He divides his time between New York City and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.