In his searing memoir Before Night Falls, Reinaldo Arenas recalled his impoverished childhood in Cuba and his early memories of being so hungry he ate dirt. He also described his vivid and prolific sexual adventures beginning at a very young age with a male cousin, and later with his uncle, a domesticated animal, and countless men, all told with an unvarnished honesty that shocked some readers. The New York Times Book Review named it one of the ten best books of the 1993, but Arenas could not enjoy its success. His hard luck was a constant. In his teens he became besotted with and then disillusioned by the Castro regime, which eventually imprisoned him, prohibited him from publishing, and threatened him with death. He attempted to escape from Cuba on an inner tube, was caught, and was sent to a far worse prison. Even when he was officially forbidden from having paper, he managed to write and got his work smuggled out of the country and published abroad. Released from prison in 1976 after renouncing his fiction and essays, Arenas was, by a fluke, part of the Mariel boatlift to Florida in 1980. Exploding with the boundless freedoms of writing and gay sex in New York, he entered his most fertile phase. Seven years later he got aids. Ravaged by the unstoppable disease and depressed by the lack of attention paid to his work, he intentionally overdosed on his medicine on December 7, 1990. His memoir was published in Spanish in 1992 and in English the following year. In 2000, Julian Schnabel adapted Before Night Falls into a gorgeous, gay, award winning film starring Javier Bardem, Johnny Depp, Olivier Martinez, Diego Luna, and Sean Penn.