Books: Cuban Curiosity

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A RUNAWAY SLAVE by Esteban Monfejo. Edited by Miguel Barnet. 223 pages. Pantheon. $4.95.

Between matchbook advertising copy and the immaculate fictions of Jorge Luis Borges, there comes a pause in a compulsive reader's occupations known as the literary curiosity. Casually indulged, it often reaffirms the battered belief that reading can be one of life's simpler pleasures.

Esteban Montejo's autobiography is no more and no less than that. Shaped from notes and tape recordings, the recollections of this 107-year-old Cuban, now living in an old soldiers' home outside Havana, have all the rough charm of folk art. Such praise is...

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