The passion according to G.H by Clarice Lispector

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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 ?

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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 ?

November 2017
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