The Shape of Bones by Daniel Galera

The Shape of bones by Daniel Galera

Brazilian fiction

Original title – Mãos de Cavalo

Translator – Alison Entrekin

Source – Personal copy

Well, I’m back posting here post- heatwave and working nights during said Heatwave sapped my energy so I am running late with Spanish / Portuguese lit month-wise . BUT I think a few books was planning to read, I can carry over to next month rot go with my women in translation books I have planned to read. Anyway, it is back with a book I finished just prior to my holiday a book from a writer I had read before, I like blood drenched beard by the Brazilian writer Daniel Galera, a writer and translator that has worked on E-zines, launched his own publishing house and has seen a number of his works made into films and plays. He is considered to be one of the best young writers from Brazil. This is the second book from him I have reviewed. As we are near the endow this year’s Tour de France. A book that at its heart has a couple of bike rides seems very apt.

The Urban cyclist lies in the middle of the street for at least ten seconds, his leg still caught in the bike, while the neighbourhood dogs bark in a frenzy. When his brain starts working again, the first thing that occurs to whims is that his face must be deformed. He runs his hand over it and finds a little blood on his thumb. His tongue registers the sour taste and what appears to be a small flap of loose skin on his lower lip. He frees his leg from the bike, the right one and examines it. A small white circle under his knee begins to sprout minuscule red dots, which become drops of blood that swell and start to run down his leg.

I think we have all had a fall from a bike like this as a kid or an adult that bad crash.

 

The book has a twin storyline that both focus on Hermano a young surgeon and husband but he is distant in his marriage as we see him sneak away from his sleeping wife and child. As we follow him as he sets off early one morning to drive through Porto Allegro to fetch a friend for a ride. We see the man remember his childhood in the rougher side of time and the group of friends he knew then a bunch of rough kids as they tore through the streets like a character on a bike from an early Springsteen song as they grew up in Esplanade district of the town a working class young part of the city.  As we follow him in the present trying with a friend to scale a mountain ( apt as yesterday was the last day in the mountains in the Tour) he passed through his old neighbourhood on the way the past comes to the fore in his mind as the start to climb the mountain and we see how what happened in the past with the boy shaped the man how the urban cyclist and his gang made this distant surgeon in the present. How one event in those years is still haunting him in the present.

The street that served as a finish line at the bottom of the stairs wasn’t very busy, but it was still a miracle that there hadn’t been any deadly collisions with motor vehicles. The most skilled riders managed to stop their bikes with a skid before they got to the kern, but the manoeuvre came with its own risks.

This is one of the passages that made me think of those early Springsteen songs of kids in cars ion his songs but tearing through streets like they do here on the bikes on the edge of life.

I love novels that use the twin storyline as a narrative tool because when it is pulled off like it is here it is a wonderful way to give insight into a character’s past and why they are like they are in the present you get the sense early on that there is something in Hermano’s life that isn’t quite right yes he has it all the life away from his childhood home, the wife, the child the dream job but there is that niggling sense the way he sneaked off the way the drive through a place sparked the past that one moment in the past that set the present this book does that brilliantly also the pacing with the drive and ride on the mountain as pacing to the book as the morning and the memories of the gang the tearing through the streets this is a man-made good but at what cost!! I am teasing you as this is a book that I think maybe slipped under the radar blood drenched beard of Course with the title which grabbed people I would imagine is a great book but for me, this is the better book by him. Have you a favourite book that uses two timelines in the Narratives?

Winstons score – +A a man faces his past whilst on a bike ride perfect reading whilst the tour is on.

Phenotypes by Paulo Scott

Phenotypes by Paulo Scott

Brazilian fiction

Original title – Marrom e Amarelo

Translator – Daniel Hahn

Source – personal copy

Now I am back on the long listed books for the Booker international. This time it is a book from Brazilian writer Paulo Scott. I thought I had reviewed his earlier book nowhere people but I hadn’t when I looked back so this is the first book I have reviewed by him he studied public law and taught it for a number of years, he was also involved in student politics and was involved in the re-democratisation of Brazil. He has now written six novel and seven collections of poetry. This book use the tale of two brother to put under the spotlight the question of race in Brazil which is something I hadn’t know a lot about or thought much about.

I was an important researcher into the so-called hierarchy of skin colours on pigmentocracy and its logic in Brazil, on the perversity of colourism, on compensatory policies and their lack of understanding among Brazilian elites, that I’d advised NGO’s in Brazil, in Latin America and the rest of the world, that I’d consulted for Adidas, oh yes that’s right , Adidas the famous German-founded company making High performance sportswear, the man was foolish enough to emphasise, as if that were the high point of my biography, and did consider interrupting him, saying like hell did I ever consult for Adidas, That I’d merely acted as intermediary for an agency that did advertising for them

This was how he was introduced but also shows how facts can be twisted and rewritten so easily.

The novel focuses on Federico and his brother Lourenco. They have a father who is black and mother that is white.The brother  have a huge difference in the skin tones and are different Federico is much light in his skin tone than his brother he could pass as white as the book opens we see him in his late forties as he is the last member of a government appointment committee that is dealing with quotas in High education as he is introduced in the opening lines we see how much he has done but also maybe a bit up himself as he complains how they talk about him getting his name wrong a small project with Adidas that they seemed to think more important but as the project he is involved with grows he starts to question what is happening he grew up in Porto Alegre and hadn’t much been touched by race mainly due to his light skin tone and the fact he hadn’t been touch  by racism as much. But when events from within his own family and the fact that som thing that happens with his brothers family makes him question the nature of race but also how absurd some of the solutions to this problem can be and how maybe a software program isn’t the answer. This is a novel that asks to question the hard question of race and also look under the skin of a nation.

It isn’t a gremlin match day, but it’s the eve of the eleventh, the last day on which let December the Gremio team won the Intercontinental cup, the Toyora cup, the day on which, every month the Gremistas, en masse, go around in the club shirts to commemorate the historic victory. As it’s Friday, it’s not surprising to see a group of friends won’t be able to meet up in the Saturday marking the occasion in advance at domestic barbecues, in restaurants, in bars, on the streets

1983 was there greatest moment the home team of Porto Alegre not much to do with the story but I am a huge football fan so I like this celebration of that moment even after decades.

I enjoyed parts of this novel and in places not many I didn’t it felt as thou the message was more than the story at times.  I didn’t connect with, but the story it was telling is an important one and maybe in the use of a family it tackled it the best way as we see how the tone of the skin of each member of the family and also how they are viewed this is the question at the start does race effect the chance but then how do you deal with it the is a section where the program is mention then a fellow member of the group talks about skin tone as thought it was like the myriad of paint tones. What he is trying to do is lift the lid on the question of race in Brazil as Daniel explains in his after word this is hard to convey from one language to the next as it is a lot about the language used and maybe this is what is missed but I am not sure I like it in parts and others it wasn’t grabbing me. This is one I may reread at a later date and see if I connect more with it but in parts this is great the opening draws you in `and things like the discussion of the software has a touch of the comic at times. Then the family events around Federico niece grabbed me. race is a hard subject to tackle and for me a white male a hard subject to write from my perspective but I can see how hard this subject and how to make the system fairer is hard to tackle as it is so complex and this is an interesting insight into it. Have you read any books that try to tackle this subject.Have you a favourite novel around race ?

Winstons- score B a brave book about race

Atlantic Hotel by Joao Gilberto Noll

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Atlantic Hotel by Joao Gilberto Noll

Brazilian fiction

Original title – Hotel Atlântico

Translator – Adam Morris

Source – personal copy

Well, it is back to Brazil and a second helping of Joao Gilberto Noll. I so enjoyed the quiet creature I decided to try another and of the two I had this one appealed. Even thou he died a few years ago, he still has a lot of works to be translated into English. He was a guest writer at Kings College in London in 2004 which lead to the other book I have by him called Lord which I will review at a later date the book is set in London partly.

I glanced at the time: eight thirty. It took some effort to get up; my legs hurt. I slipped my blazer on and went to the bathroom, steadying myself on things, feeling a sort of disability- the image of a convalescent getting ready to leave the hospital came to mind.

In the mirror I saw deep circlesunder my eyes, skin all scaly, parched lips. I slid my tongue along an inflamed cavity in one of my teeth, figuring it wasn’t doing me any good to stay here emumerating thesigns of my body’s deterioration.The time to leave has come.

After his first night in the hotel. This remind me a lot of DOA the way he said he was falling apart.

This is a very different book from Quiet creature was. The book opens with a narrator who arrives at a hotel. The Atlantic hotel and has a room where a murder had occurred, he had just flown in he said but has very little luggage and asks what happened in the room but then he is a taxi and the narrative becomes like the road trip from hell, as we follow him from dark seedy motes to motel as he starts to meet people like Susan on a Bus but she is a troubled soul like a narrator as she takes fatal overdose this increases the sense of death and the world drawing in around our unnamed narrator. later he seeks refuge at a church but who is the narrator as the man says various jobs he has done and various things he has done to the people he meets along the way. As he is accused of something who is this man what has drawn him to be the way he is on the run through Brazil but always being close to death as he does almost as though he has a cloak of darkness that tinges all that is around him.

I was drinking coffee with milk and eating a thick slice of butter bread, in Father Anselomo’s old frock. Antonio was sitting in the same chair I’d found him when I arrived at the house. Only hehad bow turned the chair in my direction.

He told me he lived in Rome for four years.There he’d known hunger , absolute misery. He’d wandered the streets in rags. Eaten whatever he was given Sometimes he sat in the doorstep of a fancy restaurant until a cop gave hium the bootor a waiter brought him something to eat- the ramains of the customers meal into a cardboard carton.

Everyone he meets have dark stories to tell him in this road trip around Brazil.

I felt this was more Lynchian than his last book the feeling of our narrator falling down a dark hole as he like the main character in Mullholland drive seems to be drawn into a dark seedy world that he isn’t quite sure what he is doing. There is as I said that sense of disjointedness that is in his works I was reminded of Toby Jones character in Berberian sound studio where he is drawn into the world around him without seeing it happen and the darkness of the film he was doing the sound for. The other film I was reminded of was a classic film noir that was made twice and that is DOA the man on the run here is obviously trying to escape something dark from his life it says early on that he aged forty years overnight at the first night at the hotel. Like the film his world becomes stranger as the days move on like in the film, his world draws in around him and his body starts to fall apart. Have you read this book at all ?

The posthumous memoirs of Bras Cubas by Joaquim Maria Machado De Assis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The posthumous memoirs of Bras Cubas by Joaquim Maria Machado De Assis

Brazilian fiction

Original title – Memorias Posthumas de Braz Cubas

Translator – Gregory Rabassa

Source – personal copy

I always like adding depth to the blog some older writers from around the world.So here I review the second book on the blog from the Brazilain writer Machado De Assis He managed a successful career as a Bureaucrat as well as become a successful writer first with poetry then a series of novels it was when this book came out that he became a really well known in Lit circles in Brazil. The book followed the death of a friend that left him melancholic and thinking about death.

For some time I debated over whether I should start these memoirs at the beginning or at the end, that is, whether I shuld put my birth of my death in first place. Since common usage would call for beginning with birth, two considerations led me to adopt a different method: the first is that i am not exactly a write who is dead but a dead man who is a writer, for whom the grave was a second cradle, the second is that the writing be more distinctive and novel in that way. Moses, who also wrote about his death,didn’t place it at the opening but at the close: a radical differecne between this book and the Pentateuch.

The opening lines explain the choice of style for the book

 

This is a strange book as it is the memoirs of a dead man that he wrote after he died he tells us this early on in the book. As we follow Bra Cubas life as he tells us in a quirky style of short chapters that vignettes of his life from his childhood onwards. but he was a spoilt rich child maybe this explains why his life is never quite right. He also abused the slaves his family had at the time. He then goes on to study law. His wilder years before he settles   Sleeping and falling in love with a prostitute that all the boys loved at the time. He also deals with his mother’s death and ends up in Rio. This is where he starts to meet Virgilia a woman that is the love of his life they never quite get it there she marries someone else he decides to become involved in politics. But he is a man that always sees his world as half empty and his relationships and life all reflect this so when he re-meets Virgilia and they see each other things still don’t go his way. His political career grows but he then is out of favor and starts a pape as a  member of the opposition.

Virgilia ? But, then, was it the same lady who some year later ….? The very same. It was precisely the lady who was to be present during my last days in 1869 and who before, long before, had played a ample part in my most intimate sensations. At that time she was only fifteen or sixteen years old. She was possibly the most daring creatureof our race and, certainly, the most wilful.I shan’t say that she was already first in beauty, ahead of the other girls of the time, because this isn’t a novel, where the author gilds reality and close his eyes to feckles and pimles.

I liove this description of the love of his life .

This is an amazing book for the time it mixes the absurd style of a book like Lawrence Sterne’s Tristam Shandy another fictional biography. De Assis said he was influenced by this book and also the French masterpiece journey around my room by Zavier De Maistre which is another unusual and unique book in style.  But he also mixes realist lit of the day from the likes of Zola and Dickens which showed the world warts and all. We are given this view of the world  Bra Cubas gives of Brazil he grew up in. It captures the wide range of people in Brazil from those nameless slaves to Bra Cubas and those he sees go above him in his life in the upper reaches of Brazilian life. Bra Cubas is  a man that is a normal man, not a hero never really successful in fact in a lot of ways he is a man that things never quite pan out failed romances the sense that he is maybe marked for his younger days in later life. I liked this much more than the other book by De Assis I read a few years ago I see in this how well read he was it is said he read in five languages and you can see what an influence he was for the Latin American writers that followed him. Borges for example in the short choppy chapters that could each be like the small gems  of short stories  that Borges did so well. Have you read De Assis ?

Quiet creature on the corner by João Gilberto Nollrr

Quiet creature on the corner by  João Gilberto Noll

Brazilian fiction

Original title – O quieto animal da esquina

Translator – Adam Morris

Source = Personal copy

I move from Spanish lit to Portuguese lit well Brazilian lit and a short Novel I have been wanted to read for a couple of years. Gilberto Noll wrote his first short story in 1970 at a very young age and went on to Study at the Iowa writers workshop in the early eighties which is when he started publishing novels and short stories collections around the early eighties as well. He also ran a twice-weekly short story in a Sao Paulo daily paper. He published a number of novels before passing away two years ago in the city of Porto Alegre which happens to be the setting for this book as well.

Suddenly I realized I was so close to the singing girl that I could almost feel her breath- I didn’t say anything, she stopped singing, I noticed there was a speckled wall that hid us from the building – I hit her with a kiss and she fell with me onto the wet earth, my tongue passing through a murmur stifled in the girls mouth, for sure a scream if I were to take my mouth off hers, and it was to late,

He goes round to the singing girl but this leads to him goinjg to far but I like the waty he noticed the speckled war that seems sinster in a way !!

The book is narrated by a 19-year-old poet, a drifter it seems having lost his job within the first lines of the book. Still living at home with his mother early on in the book whilst his mother slept. So he decides to sit and write a poem taking the most of the silence but then he is interrupted ! he goes round to a neighbor who is singing and covers her mouth to stop he screaming and then has sex with her thus he has raped her. return to the shredded sofa at his mother’s house next morning he sees the police around and fails to escape this is where things get strange he is arrested but within a few moments he has ended up in a large country estate  were he is held captive by two people a couple Kurt the German and his wife Gerda also Otavio in this strange house. Where he has been whisked to. The estate is different all they want is for him to write poetry for them, just that.  But why? this is a disjointed world where one moment our narrators is in one place then arrives in another.

At the lunch table there were three people besides me: Kurt at one-end, Otavio at the otherm and a woman with blue rinsed white hair across fromme. Kurt introduced me: Gerda, his wife, silent most of the time she asked my age then drank a sip of white wine from her glass.

Kurt had the same solemn air as his wife, Otavio did not. otavio seemed like the Plebeian of the household, besides the miad, obviously, lowering here eyes threatrically when they encountered mine.

He meets Kurt and his two companions as things take a really weird turn and things start getting surreal.

It’s easy to see why he has been called a Brazilian David Lynch for his writing style it has that sense of drifting place that Lynch has done so well in his later films where we think we are on one path only to be abruptly turned onto another. Our narrator is a troubled man a man that has just lost his job cleaning the drains and really wants to be a poet the world he describes is poetic as it makes what is a dark part of the city of Porto Alegre. Then he ends up in the mansion with the German Kurt this part is like Kafka in a way our narrator has no idea why he is there other than having to write Poems. The title of the book is one of the poems he writes whilst there. This is a jumpy book that sometimes feels as thou he has taken some parts out of it to make you the reader work like I feel Lynch does so well in his films why do we need to know the full picture sometimes filling in the gaps is very interesting. I have two more books by him on the tbr pile so don’t be surprised to see him crop up again in the next couple months.

Resistance by Julián Fuks

 

ResistanceJulian.jpg

 

Resistance by Julián Fuks

Brazilian fiction

Original title – A RESISTENCIA

Translator – Daniel Hahn

Source – personnel copy

I now move to Brazil and a Brazilian writer that was born to Argentina parents like the character in his novel Julian Fuks was on the list of Granta best Brazilian novelist in 2012. He has worked as a reporter for Folha de S. Paulo and a reviewer for the magazine cult. He has published three other books before this one, this was his fourth book and won a number of book prizes Oceanos prize for literature in Portuguese, Jose Saramago literary prize and the Anna Seghers prize. This follows a different path to some of the other books I have read set around the 1970s and Argentina with child Narrators. Kamchatka and talking to ourselves both set at the same time feature the family on the run this book is set slightly later as the family has now settled in Brazil.

My brother is adopted, but I can’t say and don’t want to say that my brother is adopted. If I say this if I speak these words that I have long taken care to silence, I reduce my brother to a single categorical condition, a single essential attribute: my brother is something, and this something is what so many people try to see in him, thios something is set of marks we insist on looking for, despite ourselves, in his features,i in his gestures, in his acts.My brother is adopted, but I don;t want to reinforce the stigma that word evokes, the stigma that is the word itself made character.

The opening lines of the book see the main narrator talk about his older brother and his adoption.

As I said this book has a child narrator it is Sebastian the youngest child in this family his parents had to leave Argentina as they saw their friends that we also in opposition to the regime at the time disappearing here and there so they decide to run with the oldest child in the family Sebastian older brother they had Sebastian and his Older sister when they settled in Brazil . There were also children have disappeared that is what might have been Sebastian’s brother his mother may have given him away. This we discover as the book unfolds. What he thinks is his family isn’t at times as pictures of the time and what he is told by his parents don’t ever quite match up they never seem to fully settle in there home and his older brother is a troubled soul they talk about Winnicott his theories around adopted children. His parents are both psychoanalysts  There is a strong undercurrent of sadness in this book the feeling of what it is to be born into an exile family never home at home and never able to get home.

The photo doesn’t say what I want it to say, the photo doesn’t say anything. The photo is merely his soft face in the middle of a shady veranda, his eyes looking at me through the potographer’s lens, those eyes that are so light, that hair smottjerthan I could have imagined- his childish beauty that perhaps I envied. Hi headis tilted to one side as though he were asking something. but I knowit’s not for me to make up what it is .

The picture he discovers tell different tales of his parents past than he had been told by them.

I enjoyed this book it is a highly personal book one senses that Fuks himself must feel some of what Sebastian tells us of his world. Like the two books, it has a strong childlike nature to his view of the world as he ponders over the old photos he finds questioning what he is seeing in the way we do when we are children. Fuks has said in interviews he is a writer that doesn’t know how to make things up. It is only recently that there have been a number of books about this dark time in Argentina and the effect on those like Fuks that are the children of those who managed to escape. But then there is also Sebastian’s brother adopted and his mother that died and never really knew him but he managed to escape but is forever scarred by this. Another gem from Charco press that produced a couple of my favourite books last year have brought out another strong voice. Have you read any of Charco Press books yet?

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.

 

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 ?

 

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