Sergeant Getulio by Joao Ubaldo Ribeiro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sergeant Getulio by Joao Ubaldo Ribeiro

Brazilian fiction

Original title – Sargento Getulio

Translator – Curt Meyer-Clason

Source – personal copy

I again am in Brazil and another tale involving Police this time it is a tale of a military policeman. The writer like Rubem Fonseca is one of the best known Brazilian writers. Joao Ubaldo Ribeiro was first a journalist whilst he studied law. But in the mid-sixties had to leave Brazil for a year Then on his return to Brazil he at first lectured in Political science. Then he chooses to become a writer. This book was his second book and he went on to write many more before his death in 2014 at which time he was considered one of the greatest Brazilian writers. This book was made into a film.

Even now that I’ve lost some authority I still have my influence. I habe good backing back in the capital city of Aracaju and my name isn’t Getulio if I’m to give it up all of a sudden. Espeacially after delivering you. There is some good feeling for you in Aravaju, people in you favour. One of tjose things. I don’t liike this assignment, I don’t like to escot prisoners. It puts you out of face. After I take tyou there I’ll set up my quarters somewhere and give up this footloose life.

He hartews this last job and it shows how fragile his postion is as the man has friends in the City as well.

The book takes the form of a monologue. The main monologue is that of Sergeant Getulio as he heads to the backwaters of Brazil for what is his last job and that is to fetch a prisoner a local political leader a conservative politician that has been ordered to be brought to the city of Aracaju. The man is accused of a bombing. What we see over the course of the book is the volatile politics of the time as the man situations changes halfway through the journey when the government is overthrown. But the Sergeant decides to carry on regardless and ignore those order that tells him to release the prisoner. Getulio is a man of his word and will take the prisoner he is also a violent man that has killed and has committed much violence in his career as we see in flashbacks over his life in the stream of consciousness. He also dreams of his children and what they will do a world full of people with a similar resolve to him.

I never thought I was going to behead the Lieutenant, at least I never thought about it clearly , I mean , I never said “Getulio, lets cut off this nuisance of a lieutnants head.” I hadn’t even noticed he was a lieutenant until he came near, but I also saw that he was more of a bastard than anything else.

A short thought about when he killed the lieutenant I loved the line of him being a bastard and him not seeing the rank at first.

Another violent book the man character of this at one point cuts a superior officers head off for trying to stop him doing his job. That is the sort of man he is below the violent he is one that when given his order must do it. In a way, I was reminded of an interview with a German army officer in world war two that tried to take Berlin when ordered to do so the same blind action is here but unlike that soldier, this one won’t finish his job so he delivers the prisoner to the city he has been ordered too. There is a strange feeling as at times in the narrative as thou they are stuck in their own world away from the outer world. It seems like these two men locked in the journey to nowhere really. It is a view of the everchanging world that was Brazilain politics at the time which lead to Ribeiro himself spend time outside Brazil. The book shows how one man can be both violent and honorable to his own beliefs at the same time. Getulio is a man struggling to be a hero. this is a wonderful Modernist novel from Brazil from a writer considered one of the best writers of his time.

 

Advertisements

The taker by Rubem Fonseca

 

The Taker and Other Stories

The Taker by Rubem Fonseca

Brazilian short stories

Translator – Clifford E Landers

Source – personal copy

Well, I’m suffering from the weather as it has sapped my mind and made me not read a lot in the last week.I am trying to read early in morning and late at night. Anyway I now stop at Brazil this Spanish and Portuguese lit month and one of the best known Brazilian writers. Rubem fonseca studied Law then became a policeman in Rio many of the police characters in his books are drawn from his time in the Police. He then spent time US being sent to study US police techniques. He then decided to become a writer full time.He is best known for his shprt stories and a collection of books about a lawyer. Mandrake one of his main characters ab amoral Lawyer that has been made into a tv series by HBO.  He has won many prizes the Biggest the Premio Camoes is considered like a Portuguese Nobel prize. Fonseca himself became friends with Thomas Pynchon and like Pynchon has rarely been interviewed and has maintained his privacy.

Betsy waited for the man to return to die.

Before the trip he had noticed that Betsy was unusally hungry. Then other symptons emerged: excessive drinking of water, urinary Incontinence. Betsy’s only problem till then was the cataract in one of her eyes. She didn’t like to go out , but before the trip she had unexpectedly come into the elevator with him and the two of them had strolled along the sidewalk by the beach something they had never done.

Betsy waiting fot the man to return the opening lines .

The taker has 13 stories. I will mention a few  of the stories that I really liked. As for the whole the collection it  shows the brutal nature of Rio.  Where every day can be a struggle for some people living on the edge. We also see how violent the city can be. The first story I will mention is Betsy as for me it was a little different to the other stories as it remind me of the way Roal Dahl would leave a twist to the ery end of the tale here we see what we at first see as a woman dying waiting for an unnamed man to come home and then her last evening. Only in the last few words of the story you get a real twist that makes think. Then in the opening story we see a buisnessman arrive home his wife wants things his kids want things next thing is he is out in his car and heading striaght at someone. Then later we have a police like account of what happened when a cow is hit on a bridge and we see the local poor people running to cut up the dying cow. elsewhere we have serial killers a man trying to find his past that others would rather he had forgotten.

Early on the morning on May 3 a brown cow was crossing the brigdge over the Coroado river, at marker %£, in the direction of Rio deJanerio.

A passenger bus of the Unica auto Onibus firm, license plates RF-80-07-83 and JR-81-12-27, was crossing the Coroado bridge in the direction of Sao Paulo

When he saw the cow, the driver, Plinio Sergio, tried to avoid hitting it . He collided with the cow and then the bus hit the side of the bridge and plunged into the river .

On the bridge the cow was dead.

The report of an incident this could almost have been a police report theat Fonseca maybe wrote himself at some point.

Now I knew this would be a great collection as how often do you get a Pynchon quote on the cover of a book he says “Each of Fonseca’s books is not only a worthwile journey: it is also, in some ways, a necessary one. There is a sense of the policeman sat times in tthe clipped nature of Fonsecas prose that police report style that over time sees them cutting to the bone of the matter. The stories show the acts also he does have a clever way of twisting a tale like Betsy where it isn’t to the last few words the story is turned on its head.  This is a man rasing the torch tothe city he had spent most of his life in Rio this isn’t the glamor of copacabana this is the side streets the  poorer areas of town. He has a way of opening the door on the darker side of life from a man randomlly running some one over to the man that just takes what he wants. The taker is one of those collections that isn’t for every one but if you want see the real side of Rio in its fully brital nature this will appeal to you.

A Poison Apple by Michel Laub

 

 

A Poison Apple by Michel Laub

Brazilian fiction

Original title –  A maçã envenenada

Translator – Daniel Hahn

Source – Library copy

I’m looking back at some of the books I have missed in translation over the last year and this was one of them. I read Michel Laub first book translated into English the Diary of the fall when it came out a couple of years ago. He has written books since the late nineties has published five novels so far. He won the Brasilia book prize for the diary of the fall. I also won the Wingate prize for translation.

I haven’t had many relationships between 1993 and today, at least not the long ones that end up serving as a point of comparison for the others. It’s as though the night I met Valeria was the starting benchmark, and from the chance ocurrence of my arriving at her house and seeing the Kurt Cobain poster and ger commenting that her biggest dream ever was tp see a nirvana show, a wave of premonition arose that contaminated all the conversations and fights and getting-back togethers and break ups I would have over two decades.

One moment he sees to blame for the future and the past of his relationships.

I remember the Butthole surfers lyric it is better to regret something you have done than regret something you haven’t done. well, Gibby Haynes wrote those lines on their Locust abortion technician album. He could have meant the guy of this story our Narrator is looking back to a point twenty years earlier. He was in his first serious relationship with a girl called Valeria.She is a singer and the woman that he lost his cherry with!!  He was in the middle of his compulsory military service. This was 1993 He had got them tickets to what would turn out to be the only show by Nirvana in Brazil.So our narrator got held up so let his best friend take his beloved Valeria to the concert. Not knowing that they would fall for each other at the concert. He is now recalling the events. He blames this one moment for not being able to get to the concert for his problems but also looks back at what happened to Kurt after this gig. As within in 18 months he had himself died and left us with the words of another great singer Neil youngs words Its better to burn out than fade away. Has one missed concert been the downfall or had he made the concert would his life had run different, had he been more Gibby and runoff from the CPOR training in Porto Alegre and gone to the concert. He also now a journalist in the present is interviewing a woman that hid in a bathroom with several other women during the Massacres in Rwanda. Her story is marked in his memory as well as his time with Valerie.

One explanation for why I was in London in the week Immaculee went into the bathroomand Kurt Cobain killed himself: a car accident I had had the year before. I crossed protasio Alves, at a traffic light opposite the bus lane, and a fire engineinto the door by my seat. I spent the night in the emergency clinc. They did tests and put a catheter in urethra.All theough the early hours I heard the groans from the other beds, and I was forbidden from drinking any water because they were considering surgery for first thing in the morning.

I like this as it had an echo to Kurt coming out in a hospital gown on reading where he sound like he was groaning in pain  at times during that performance.

 

This is an interesting book that has a sentimental look at a band that the writer must be a fan of to go into the depth he has with the history of the band and what happened after the Brazil gig. even the title is a quote both of a biblical nature it was Eve eating the apple that got Adam and Eve expelled after a snake told them too. It is also a Kurt Cobain line from the song Drain you about an unrequited love someone, Kurt, like but didn’t like him. Then add to it the side story of massacres and loss in Rwanda almost showing how a missed concert in the big scheme of things maybe isn’t important but maybe is !!I enjoyed this I too am a fan of Nirvana and also often wonder if certain moments in one’s life are those turning points we don’t know are turning points.

 

A cup of rage by Raduan Nassar

A cup of rage by Raduan Nassar

Brazilian Fiction

Original title – Um Copo de Colera

Translator – Stefan Tobler

Source – Personnel copy

Now this may be the oddest title on the first Man booker international longlist as it is hard to place is it a long short story a short Novella or something else this book is under fifty pages long. I had just the week before the longlist had been announced looked for this title on my local Library system but had only found the other book penguin had brought out by the Brazilian writer Raduan Nassar. He is a now a farmer retired. He wrote the two books mentioned and worked in news papers as an editor. Then in 1984 he gave up the writing as he had bored with it to become a farmer.

My coming nakedness and soon I heard her breathing in deeply, over by the chair, where she had perhaps already given in to her desperation, struggling to take off her clothes, getting her finger caught in the straps slipping down her arm, and I , still faking , knew that all of that was real, oh how I knew her nightmarish obsession for feet, and for my feet in particular, their firm step and well shaped form, a little bony around the toes perhaps and nervously marked with veins and tendons on the instep, though they hadn’t lost the shy manner of a tender root.

Early on in bed the man and woman start getting frisky and he remarks how she likes his feet.

Now it is strange he choose to be a farmer as this is the setting for this most unusual story told in a classic stream of consciousness  it is told from the point of view of an older man as he awakes starts his day making love to his younger wife. He then is sidetracked by some ants and other things in the house which leads to an argument between the two . The wife then heads out . Now that is it a lot to fit in under fifty pages . I think this is one over the next few year I will read and reread and still wonder every time I do so .

Under the shower I let her hands slide over my body, and her hands were inexhaustible, and they ran searchingly through all the foam, and they came and went tirelessly, and our soaked bodies now and again pressed against each other so that her hands could reach my back in an embrace, and I enjoyed all this movement, sinuous and vague, that provoked sudden, hidden jolts, and seeing that those hands were already taking advantage of my darkest corners – even combing through the threads at the badly stitched seam of the groin (and secretly weighing the soapy packet of my member) – I said ‘wash my head, I’m in a hurry’, and then, pulling me out from under the stream of water, her hands immediately penetrated my hair, rubbing firmly with her fingers, massaging my scalp with her nails, scratching my nape in a way that sent me crazy, to my core

And after the bed they meet in the shower he manages to get the feeling just right I feel .

The fact I was already looking into reading Nassar, means I felt he was a writer I would enjoy. Nick Lezzard also wetted my appetitie in his review mention Thomas Bernhard, but for me the only real connection to him was the fact that he like Bernhard isn’t very keen on a full stop. The whole story is like one long thought in the mind of the older man. No for me I was reminded of the classic modernist piece like Joyce’s Ulysses which in the sex here you can see in the later passages of Joyce’s piece. A relationship not working or problems reminded me of Woolf’s Mrs Dallowway and of course like both these works the action is set over the course of one day . Now that isn’t to say this hasn’t connection to other writers in Latin america of course Lispector a fellow Brazilian and also a writer using Modernist ticks in her writing . I was also reminded of one of my favourite Cuban writers Infante three trapped tigers like this is set over a day and has a similar rhythmic feel to the prose. Now that is enough praise my main problem was what is this it is like a clip from a great novel or a long-lost short story from a great collection . I wanted more than this as wonderful as it is it is like going for a meal and leaving after a wonderful starter if you know what I mean . Stefan piece in the independent about meeting him is very interesting . Now for Man booker I thing this will probably make shortlist as it is a challenging read and different to anything about at the moment .

Have you read this book or ancient tillage ?

 

The passion according to G.H by Clarice Lispector

IMG_20150805_144452

The passion according to G.H by Clarice Lispector

Brazilian fiction

Original title – A Paixão segundo G.H.

Translator – Idra Novey

Source – personnel copy

When you ate,
I saw your eyelashes.
Saw them shake like
wind on rushes.

In the cornfield,
when she called me

Moths surround me.
Thought they’d drown me.

And I miss your precious heart.

Dried rose petals —
redbrown circles —
framed your eyes and
stained your knuckles.

I choose this lyric from Joanna Newsom for those first two-lines anyone that read this book will know what I mean ,also  Joanna Newsom new album out soon

A couple of years ago Amanda brought me two Lispector Near to the wild heart and hour of the star , I read Near to the wild heart straight away loved it that much , I went out a few days later and brought this the another of the four Lispector books penguin had brought out at the time .So with the chance to read her collected short stories that are coming out soon .Lispector was a brazilian writer , she was born in Ukraine her family came to Brazil and then when she married she travelled the world with her husband whom was a diplomat ,before returning to Brazil and began writing , this book was midway in her career .

That was when  the cockroach began to emerge .

First the heralding quiver of its antennae .

Then , behind those dry stands , the reluctant body started to emerge until nearly all of it reached the opening of the wardrobe door .

It was brown , it hesitant as if of enormus wieght .It was now almost entirely visible

The roach appears to G.H

Well where does one start with this book ? it’s a monologue told by a women , this woman is the same one as the G.H of the title . G.H has entered her maid’s room , clean clinical white room , in which she sees this black cockroach after finding it in the wardrobe .She then decides to kill the roach , setting of a shocking reaction with in G.H herself as she watches the insect die cause a strange nightmare like state in her as she questions  what she did . All this happened the day before and G.h is reflecting on what happened .

Because inside myself I saw what hell is like .

Hell is the mouth that bites and eats the living flesh with its blood , and the one being eaten howls with delight in his eye: hell is pain as delight of the matter , and with the laughter of delight , the tears run in pain .And the tear comes from the laughter of pain is the opposite of redemption .I was seeing the inexorability of the roach with its ritual mask .

G.H later in the book seems to drift into a spirit world of her own .

Now a brief description for this is one from the heart of modernism like a distant cousin to the world of Virginia Woolf , it is easy to see why the two are often mentioned in the same breath .Like Mrs Dalloway Woolf’s book , this takes place of the course of a day . Woolf also touched in other books like this does on mental health issues , you feel G.H is a woman who has more to her than we are told and certain of her actions within this book lead you to think , she may have been in the middle of a breakdown the day she is describing .This book shows why we maybe need more woman in translation to find the effect of woman writing in english has had on female writers around the world we often miss the influence of english writers but I feel in Lispector it is clear to see how drawn she must have been as a writer to the Modernist movement , she was writing in the 60’s so would be able to have read the great voices of modernism .It is easy to see G.H as a character as a woman trying to break maybe the female bonds as the act she does cause her to think why she does it ? A book that will leave you reeling for a good while after you put it down . I can’t wait to read her short stories now , the complete collection will include all eight collections she wrote in her lifetime .

Have you read Lispector ?

Blood-drenched beard by Daniel Galera

blood drenched beard cover

Blood-drenched beard by Daniel Galera

Brazilian fiction

Original title – Barba ensopada de sangue

Translator – Alison Entrekin

Source – review copy

I cannot walk through the suburbs in the solitude of the night without thinking that the night pleases us because it suppresses idle details, just as our memory does.”

Jorge Luis Borges  source here 

Daniel Galera was on the recent Granta list of best Brazilian writers from last year .Born on Sao Paulo but grew up in the city of Porto Alegre the same city as Luís Fernando Veríssimo, comes from .Daniel Galera  works as a writer and translator and is considered one of the best Brazilian writers at using the internet for his writing ,he found his own publishing house and also has contribute to numerous online publications .He has also won the Machado De Assis prize .

What’s that face ? asks his father .

It’s an old joke .He gives his usual answer with the barest hint of a smile .

The only one I’ve got

The first hint at the main characters face blindness condition .

Well Blood drenched beard is one of those books that reminds me why I love translation so much, a crime novel that breaks the mould and is more postmodern than crime  .A man who is unnamed in the book is drawn back to the seaside town that his grandfather lived in ,after his own father commits suicide.His is accompanied by his fathers old dog .Now this man is trying to discover his families past ,but has a problem a rare condition that means he can’t remember people after meet them because he can’t remember faces .So he is forced to remember actions and places to remember people .SO what we see through his eyes is the world in the pieces he remembers as he tries to discover who killed his grandfather .The grandfather died in a blackout ,hence the title of the book the lights went up the grandfather was drenched in blood . Will he find the killer ?

Back then there wasn’t a police station in Garopaba ,says the officer .If there was any kind of inquiry,the files would be in Laguna .But I doubt it .That was a long time ago .I’m from here ,born and bred ,my parents and grandparents and great-grandparents are from here and I’ve never heard of him .People remember the ones who die .

He talks to the local policeman ,but is what he says the truth or a lie ?

Blood-drenched beard is a clever take on the quest novel the man returning home on a quest .Now if you take out the main thing that most crime novels have and that is the facial identification and expressions  .So what we get is the smaller details how people move there gestures and how he sees these through her eyes . Add to that the setting the small coastal town of Garopaba a small town with its own past ,myths and surreal nature ,at times I was reminded of Marquez world .I’ve read Casares the Argentinian writers take on the crime novel and was reminded at times in this book of the way he wrote .A town with secrets and a family past unravelling makes this a real page turner .Do you have a favourite crime novel that isn’t a crime novel really ?

Near to the wild heart by Clarice Lispector

Near to the wild heart

Near to the wild heart by Clarice Lispector

Brazilian fiction

Original Title –  Perto do coração selvagem

Translator – Alison Entrekin

Source – personnel copy

 

He was alone. He was unheeded, happy, and near to the wild heart of life. He was alone and young and wilful and wildhearted, alone amid a waste of wild air and brackish waters and the seaharvest of shells and tangle and veiled grey sunlight.”
― James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man via goodreads also inspired the title for this book .

Well it’s nearly here the world cup in Brazil ,so for the next couple of post I’ll be reviewing a couple of Brazilian ,this the first is a cornerstone of Brazilian literature from the most well-known writer of her generation Clarrice Lispector .I had long wanted to read Lispector but inertially when I started blogging ,there wasn’t any in my library system ,then New directions brought out this and four others in us and in Uk on import but then heard Penguin was doing a uk version  ,that I am reading in the Uk penguin Editions .Clarice Lispector was born in Russia and with her family escaped the aftermath of world war one ,the family settled in Brazil .She was studying and working as a journalist on the side when she wrote this book her debut novel .It was translated once before but this is the latest translation from 2012 .

“Daddy , what shall I do ?”

“I already told you : go play and leave me be !”

“But I’ve played ,I swear ”

Her father laughed

“But there’s no end to playing …”

“Yes there is >”

“Make up another game ”

I thought this conversation when I was looking after my nieces just yesterday , kids hey !

 

So near to the wild heart is a modernist piece of fiction (I know some people cringe at that word , but for me it always seem to me something challenging or innovative ) .The book is the story of Joana ,her life is told in snippets in the stream of consciousness style ,from her as a youngster, whom is  beguiled with her father telling herself poems about him ,through growing up temper tantrums ,her marriage to a man with a wandering eye , the book has an episodic feel at times as we jump in and out of Joana’s life the good ,the bad .She is called a strange creature by family members and through her thoughts and emotions  as we read them comes across a  a women ill at ease and very complexed .

The dense ,dark night was cut down the middle split into two black blocks of sleep .Where was she ? Between the piece s, looking at them (the one she had already slept and the one had yet to sleep ) isolated in the timeless and spaceless in an empty gap .This stretch would be subtracted from her years of life .

I felt this could have easily come from Marquez the feel of her words remind me of his descriptions and magic realism .

Now this just knocked me back ,I still can’t believe she was 23 when she wrote this book ,especially in the passages when Joana is older  married .Her writing mixes, the best of European modernism but with a shot of Latin american Heat and Humidity at times ,its hard to describe yes of course  its stream of consciousness but that is banded about so much but the book for me  evokes ,James Joyce ,at times the early Joana  parts of her life reminds me of Stephen Dedalus in a portrait of artist as a young man  describing his childhood ,but later on I felt more of Virginia Woolf, Lispector does a similar thing to Woolf in books like Miss Dalloway when she captures Joana disappoint in her marriage and husband .I choose this of the two Lispector books my wife brought me the other being Hour of the star ,but now I feel maybe I want to read her books in order to she her development as a writer .A must for fans of a strong female voice ,Modernism and wanting during the world cup to discover a bit about Brazil and its culture .

Have you read Lispector ?

Diary of the fall by Michel Laub

Diary of the fall by Michel Laub

Diary of the fall by Michel Laub

Brazilian fiction

Orginial title – Diário da queda

Translator – Magaret Jull Costa

Source -review copy

“Any life is made up of a single moment, the moment in which a man finds out, once and for all, who he is.” Jorge Luis Borges

Now I have been saying for a while on twitter Brazil is going to be the next big breaking place to read books from ,with the Granta Twenty best young novelist from there last year and the world cup and Olympics both happening soon all eyes will be on the world’s seventh largest economy  .So this is one of two books from Brazil by bigger publishers I’ve been sent since the turn of the year .Michel Laub the writer of this book was on the Granta list ,he was born in Porto Alegre and lives in Sao Paulo ,this is his fifth novel and the first to be translated to English .

In the final years of his life , my grandfather spent the whole day in his study .Only after he died did we find out what he had been doing there , notebooks and more notebooks filled with tiny writing , and only when I read what he had written did I finally understand what he had been through .

The notes of the grandfather found after he died .

 

So Diary of the fall reminded me so much style wise of HHhH it follows that choppy short paragraph style that made HHhH one of those books that you read in a sitting or two .The book is in a form of a Diaries and notes  ,undated but the story moves on as we read passage by Passage ,The story is told by A grandson and involves him ,his father memories  and Grandfather guilt of being a survivor .The story is almost a three ages of man story but things are very twisted ,The narrator the grandson is looking back on an incident that happened when he was at school ,how it has affect him this incident is a similar starting point to novel the slap When he was at school that change one of his fellow pupils life forever  .Then there is the father a clever man but in the process of losing his memory and memories to Alzheimer’s  try to capture them all in the notes he writes .Then there is the Grandfather he survived Auschwitz and is racked with guilt about what happens and is trying to forget by writing it .

The majority of Alzheimer’s patients are aged eight or over .My father belongs to the three per cent or so aged between sixty and seventy-five ,and to the minority whose symptoms are diagnosed at a relatively early stage

His father finds out when he has chanced to remember his life before like the sands of time it runs out of him .

 

 

The big question in this book is why do we write ,to work out ? ,to remember or to forget .What our memories do they make us what we are ? As with the quote at the start of the review this book is made of a point when a man became a man or a point when a man lose being a man or when as Primo Levi said  in his poem survivor

Stand back,

leave me alone,

submerged people,

Go away.

I haven’t dispossessed anyone,

Haven’t usurped anyone’s bread.

No one died in my place. No one. Go back into your mist. It’s not my fault if I live and breathe, Eat,

drink, sleep and put on clothes. Levi is mention by the Grandfather As a fellow survivor he too try’s to find words but also use Levi’s words to try to work out what happened there to him and those he knew .I said this was a Story of three ages of man but in one family  but this is three ages of man if written by Francis bacon another person who loved three imagines in his many triptych’s in each way maybe these are all version of his paintings the grandfather a screaming pope trying to find a way out .The father is one of those blurred faces trying to remember his face and who he is at the same time .and the son is Christ held by what he did in the past .I loved this one I look forward to starting my next novel from Brazil and seeing where that one takes me

Have you a favourite Brazilian novel ?

Crow Blue By Adriana Lisboa

Crow Blue image_med

Crow Blue by Adriana Lisboa

Brazilian Fiction

Original title – Azul-Corvo

Translator – Alison Entrekin

Source – Review copy

Well I’ve been saying for months on twitter Brazil is the next big thing world lit wise (no hard guess really with the worlds eyes turned there with world cup and Olympic games also they are the guest country at this year Frankfurt book fair ) so a new Brazilian novel to review and to add to the too few I have review on this blog is great and what a great novel Adriana Lisboa is one of the current stars of Brazilian Fiction and a piece by her was chosen as the challenge for this years young translator prize .Sh was born and raised in Rio spent time in France and the last six years living in the US She is also a vegetarian ,Buddhist and animal rights campaigner .

Lakewood , Colorado .A strange place .But its strangeness didn’t bother me , because the Denver suburb was , to me a , a stepping-stone .Something I was using to achieve an objective .A bridge , a ritual , a password that you utter before a door and wait for someone to open it .

Vanya arriving in the US to stop with Fernando .

So to crow blue the title has a duel meaning of both the crow blue shells of the beach in Rio and blue crows in the  US as this book follows its heroine Vanja ,her mother has died she is left with her stepfather and the go to live in the US ,But who was her real father ? This she wants to find out and how her father and mother meet ,but along the way she learns a lot more than she expected ,also a lot about Brazil’s darker past and the struggle for human rights that was fought under the last dictatorship in the country and the Araguaia guerrilla what they were fighting for and what happened to them  .Her stepfather has his own story to tell he was a guerilla at this time and a tough man.We also see through their eyes the toughness of living in the US as an immigrant and through the people they met along the way .Will she find this father and what does Vanya learn about her self along the way ?

The brazilian Armed Forces had five thousand men hunting a few dozen guerillas in the forest .By now they also knew that the communist were practising jungle survival techniques , learning to get their bearings from the sun , star and Landmarks .Learning to commando crawl in the forest ,to recognize edible fruit , to hunt .

The army gets trained to get the guerilla forces in the Jungles and forests .

I loved the pace of this book it felt just right Vanya and her stepfather are treading a path that many people from Latin america do trying to find a better life .I read an interview translated from Portuguese with Adriana about the book she said the characters aren’t based on actual people .But the settings are ones she knows well she grew up in and around  Rio and  currently lives in Colorado where the book is mostly set when they get  to the US to live .I found the feel of the two looking in at the rich american world when they got there the perfect house and Lawns  .I also really enjoyed  learning more about Brazil’s recent past and the Araguaia guerrillas and the war they fought in the seventies  a dark mark on Brazil’s recent past .I am slowly falling in love with the varied fiction of Brazil and Adriana Lisboa is another name II want to read more off .Have you a favourite Brazilian writer ?

The spies by Luis Fernando Verissimo

the spies luis verissimo

The Spies by Luis Fernando Vermissimo

Brazilian fiction

Translator Margaret Jull Costa

Original Os Espiões

source – review copy

Well finally I m getting round to my advent Christmas books from Brazil rather late ,we were off work last week and I decided to take a back seat from blogging reading and books as I decide to spend time with Amanda and my family as they had come to see us both.

Anyway back to the book this is another gem from Machlehose I remember his earlier book called Borges and the eternal Orangutans ,a book which caught my eye just by its title so this one , intrigued me So Luis Fernando Verissimo who is he ,well he is probably one of the best known writers in his homeland of Brazil ,his father was a well-known writer ,he started in papers as a copy editor then work up too being a columnist ,well-known for his satire and being a critic of certain right wingers in Brazil ,he has published   seven novel and tens of collections of short stories .

“Our past the living room in the old house with the candle burning on the floor the corner of the ruined garden where he said that if the moon smiled she would resemble me and I cried “are you calling me “moon-faced” ?! and he kissed me me on the mouth for the first time “only with her heart closed could she exact just revenge for what they had done to her father too ”

the note sent too our narrator

The spies as I said is comic noir set in Vermissimo native Brazil ,we meet our narrator he works in a publishing house and receives a mysterious letter from a women called Ariadne from a small town called frondosa ,this town far away from the narrator is in the middle or wild part of Brazil ,she has sent him some writing but he reads finds out she is after revenge and she is going kill her self as her brother and father have been killed by the local gangsters a pair of brothers that live in a foot ball mad town .So our narrator ,decides to leave behind his drunk evenings in the bar discussing the rights and wrongs of books to find out more about this town and the women that sent this too him .Eventually drawing in his drink buddies to spy and thus become the spies .what do they find out ? well read the book ?

The latest news from Frondosa was our man inside had met Franco Martelli .He had been shown round the factory by him and invited to lunch at his house .into the monsters lair !

the man they choose to try to spy reports back

This book is full of humour witty bits on books and writing and middle age men trying to be spies and not always doing it well ,the fact our main character is a hapless chap ,and he is stuck in a rut when Adriadne and the town of Frondosa appears in his and his friends lives is the spark for this adventure  .It has echoes of classic noir the mysterious women ,who may or may not been under the thumb of the bad guy or is she all she seems ,remind me of the classics of Noir cinema ,but then you have our narrator and his friends that come across as characters from an Ealing comedy the great ensemble bits like the lavender hill mob or the ladykillers .so if you fancy a book like the Maltese falcon  done by Ealing films with a few bottles of rum and a jazz album on in the background.There is also maybe a feeling of Greek myths our narrator as a hero Adriadne  on the way to kill and kill her self over her father’s death sounds like it appeals  this is the book for you .As ever Jull Costa translation seems spot on.

Memories of Brazil for me ,well never being to Brazil but  one of the themes in this book is football and I remember the first brazilian I saw that  really made an impact on English football that was Juninho Paulista as he is known but we knew him just as Juninho when he was playing for Middlesbrough so I found a clip video on youtube he was small and quick ,with a big smile it always seemed .

Previous Older Entries

October 2018
M T W T F S S
« Sep    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  
%d bloggers like this: