ANTÔNIO MOURA NILTON RESENDE LÚCIA BETTENCOURT LEONARDO VILLA-FORTE ANGÉLICA FREITAS JOÃO PAULO CUENCA ADRIANA LISBOA DAMIAN PLATT SÉRGIO RODRIGUES TATIANA SALEM LEVY
cover image by Filipe Jardim
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ANTÔNIO MOURA TRANSLATED BY STEFAN TOBLER
NILTON RESENDE TRANSLATED BY ALISON ENTREKIN
SUMMERTIME LÚCIA BETTENCOURT Photo. Daniel Mordzinski
ART: LOMBRA RODRIGO DE SOUZA LEÃO
LEONARDO VILLA-FORTE TRANSLATED BY JACIARA TOPLEY LIRA
TRANSLATED BY KIM HASTINGS
AT ELEVEN YEARS OLD & THE
GOLDMINE OF MY MUM AND MY AUNT
ANGÉLICA FREITAS TRANSLATED BY HILARY KAPLAN
THE TATTOOIST JOÃO PAULO CUENCA Photo. Jorge Bisbo
TRANSLATED BY JETHRO SOUTAR
THE PRESENT ADRIANA LISBOA TRANSLATED BY DIANE GROSKLAUS WHITTY
MONKEY HILL DAMIAN PLATT
THE STAPFNUNSK REPORT –
A DECENT MAN SÉRGIO RODRIGUES
TATIANA SALEM LEVY TRANSLATED BY JACIARA TOPLEY LIRA
TILES & HAVAIANAS RAMON MELLO
TRANSLATED BY THEREZA ROCQUE DA MOTTA
EVENTS LISTINGS ALEX JAMES ROBIN STEVENS
FROM THE EDITOR
WELCOME TO ISSUE 114 OF LITRO Rio de Janeiro is not quite a ‘world city’. It is too laid back, too full of switchbacks, so many roads ending at the beach. Yet this year and in the next few, it will be the focus of enormous suspense, high passions, international achievement and doubtless great disappointment too. This year, a host of events will mark ‘Rio + 20’: the 20th anniversary of the original global climate change summit. Next year Brazil will be the focus country at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the biggest trade fair for books. In 2014, Brazil will host the World Cup. One more blink and we’ll be back to Rio for the 2016 Olympics. So it’s a good time for Litro to dip into Rio’s writing scene. This issue features carioca poets, fiction and nonfiction writers and translators. Among them, Ramon Mello takes us through his stacks of musty records; Lúcia Bettencourt snaps a typically sweltering Rio commute, lightened by flirtation; the erotic shows its darker side in Nilton Resende’s ‘The Crack’.
Brazilians are masters of the short short – represented here by Tatiana Salem Levy’s ‘Desert’ and two of Adriana Lisboa’s shimmering caligrafías. Experiment is not lacking anywhere: literature and mortality entwine in surprising ways in João Paulo Cuenca’s ‘The Tattooist’ and Sérgio Rodrigues’ ‘The Stapfnunsk Report’. That is not all! If you like what you find here, please tell us. There may be more Brazilian issues, with different focuses, in the works.
Sophie Lewis Guest Editor Rio de Janeiro
Cover image courtesy of Filipe Jardim, Rio-born fashion and travel illustrator. Jardim has provided illustrations for Hennessy Cognac, Hermès and Sao Paulo Fashion Week, and editorial work for the New Yorker, S/N and Piauí magazines.
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THE WAIT ANTÔNIO MOURA TRANSLATED BY STEFAN TOBLER
Waiting, standing, on the rock, between the sea’s green sphere and the star that nears every night, you speak more and more mutely, with a voice that listens to the bottom of another voice that comes and saysandoesn’t in an echo, in uh? seaweed language, a wee bit like this deaf sound:
nada, dressed in body and karma while the world dissolves
Antônio Moura was born in the Brazilian Amazon. He has published four collections of poetry and three of translations, including of César Vallejo. His poems have appeared in contemporary anthologies, including Nothing the Sun Could Not Explain: 20 Contemporary Brazilian Poets. He is currently being translated into Spanish, Catalan, German and English. Stefan Tobler is a translator from Portuguese and German and the founder of the publisher And Other Stories. In 2009 he completed a doctorate focusing on Antônio Moura. His most recent translation is Clarice Lispector’s Água Viva, to be published by Penguin (UK) and New Directions (US).
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THE CRACK NILTON RESENDE TRANSLATED BY ALISON ENTREKIN “Sky-blue,” the boy hears, as he sweeps the yard and feels the broom come to a sudden halt. He looks to one side with a start, then behind him, then up, and sees his cousin clutching the handle as she crouches down. She takes his face, cupping it with her hands. She pulls back a little as she looks at him, taking his face out of the shade and thrusting it into the sun. He closes his eyes, but she asks him to open them. He obeys, slowly, his eyelids trembling, as the woman in front of him, half her body silhouetted against the light, arms outstretched and stroking his head, says, “Like an angel.” She then returns him to the zone of shade and rest as she kisses his forehead. “Your eyes are sky-blue.” She looks towards the porch. “He’s such a beautiful boy.” “And a handful,” says his mother and comes down the steps to hug him. She points at the man with his back turned, unpacking the car trunk, “He’s big.” The cousin runs to the man and hugs him from behind, turning him around. “Meet my cousin.” He smiles, shoulders the gallon of wine and heads for the steps. “Drink wine. Our Lord sheds blood and we drink wine,” he says with a smile. The cousin slaps him on the back then laughs. He stops on the top step and looks over his shoulder. “Do the looks run in the family?” The two women hoot with laughter and go to fetch things from the car. They go into the house. The whole morning is spent in preparations in the kitchen. At lunch, the boy drinks grape juice. “That’s all you can have for now,” says the man placing his arm around the boy’s shoulders. “Later you’re going to try other things, ‘cause there’s lots of good things in the world for those who know how to appreciate them,” and he takes a deep breath and winks at the women. “You guys should spend the night here,” the boy’s mother says. The cousin says the man has to work Saturday morning. “On Holy Saturday?” The cousin says watchmen don’t have public holidays; there are burglaries on Holy Saturday too. The mother understands, then adds immediately afterwards that at any rate it’s a shame, because no one ever makes the drive out and it’s sad being alone there. “But we’ve got all afternoon to have fun,” says the man, getting up and taking off his shirt. He goes into the kitchen and comes back with a bottle of wine. “This is a little stronger.” The mother downs the rest of the wine in her glass in one gulp and holds it out. “Then I’m a goner.” She laughs. “No you’re not,” says the man, filling her glass. “That makes two of us,” says the cousin, laughing. “In vino veritas!” says the man, raising his glass to his mouth. “In wine truth,” he explains to the women. LITRO | 08
The mother pulls out the boy’s chair, telling him to go gather up the fallen mangoes, take the soft ones to the chicken coop and put the hard ones in the basket. And then go see if any breadfruit has fallen from the tree on the other side of the stream. And leave them on top of the stone, covered with leaves, for them to fetch later. “Just bring back two.” She says this and coughs, choking on her laughter because of the dance the man is doing now, imitating the cousin’s hairdresser. He goes into the bedroom and comes back with a sheet wrapped around him like a skirt, a towel rolled up on his head. The mother chokes and spits the wine at the wall. She tells her cousin off because she gets up to clean it. “Not today!” She points at the man. “Dance.” She looks at the boy. “Back already?” He leaves, amidst their laughter and yelling. He collects the mangoes and doles them out between the chicken coop and the basket. As he crosses the stream, he chooses an angle in which he sees the reflection of his face and stops to study himself for a moment, trying to see in his eyes the same colour as the sky behind his head. The light shows itself in speckles through his hair, his golden locks. He gets up and goes over to the fallen breadfruit. He runs his palms over the fruit’s bumpy surface, rubs it, pushing down when it’s in the centre of his palm. He presses harder and the base of one of his hands sinks into the rotten side of the fruit, moist and brownish, that was facing the ground. He gets some sand, rubs the back of his hands, his palms, and wipes them in the grass. He picks up the fallen fruit and places it on the stone at the foot of the hill, in a pyramid that soon collapses. He gives up this undertaking and arranges them next to one another. He covers them with green leaves, which he picks from bushes. He covers them slowly, trying to hide all of their green bumpiness. He lays pieces of branches over the leaves, a twiggy fortress covering the treasure. On his way back, he squats in the stream again, but now there is a red-streaked sky, with tongues of fire cutting through the clouds, a bonfire behind his hair, as if the boy himself is in flames. He rises and quickens his pace. At the house, climbing the stairs, he hears laughter, but softer now, coming from the bedroom. He stands on tiptoes and peeks through a crack in the window. The man kisses and runs his tongue over the knee of a woman whose legs are spread, while his hand touches the flesh amidst the hair, rubbing it with his fingers and forcing them in. Still moving his fingers, he runs his tongue up to her breasts and sucks them. He lies down and the woman puts her hand on his thing, which is hard. The boy leans against the wall, pressing his body into it and rubbing himself. The man lies down and the woman bends down to touch his thing with her tongue. It is the cousin who touches the man’s thing with her tongue and takes it in her mouth, sucks it. “Have you no shame?” he hears someone say, at the same time as he feels something hit him on the head. Something hard and cold that leaves his forehead moist and now warm. A warmth spreads across his face,
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as he receives blow after blow, very hard, conjugated with his mother’s voice, who alternates between yells and whispers, stops the blows and presses her elbows into his back, forcing them further as she grabs his hair and pulls it, then goes back to shouting that he should be ashamed of himself and that he didn’t even bring what she asked him to, then he tries to say that he forgot, but his face pressed into the sand, because he has rolled down the stairs, doesn’t allow him to articulate the words, and in his mouth the sentence is limited to just the sibilance of the syllables, managing to open in a gasp when the pressure lets up at the same instant that he hears the cousin yell, “You’re going to kill the kid!” He rests his arms on the ground and turns his face to the side as he lets the saliva fall out with the sand that gathered in his mouth, scratching his teeth when they chattered grinding against one another under the pressure. He squints as he tries to focus. His mother staggers around to the side of the house, and all that can be seen is her curving over, one hand on her belly and another apparently going to her mouth, her body shaking. She comes back relieved. The man comes down from the house bringing a bowl of water, a towel over his arm. The mother looks at the two of them. “Sorry, guys. Sorry.” She goes into the house. The man sets the bowl on the ground in front of the boy. He takes some water in his cupped hands and splashes it on his face. He washes it. In the bowl, the boy tries to see his eyes and the sky, but he opens them with difficulty, and now, in the water dirty with sand, he, the cousin, the man, everything is the same red-streaked colour. The man rinses his face, takes him into the bathroom, takes off his clothes. He undresses too and bathes him. As the boy dries himself off the man showers. He is big and strong, and his thing has lots of hair and isn’t hard like when his cousin put it in her mouth. He quickly wraps the towel around himself. He watches the man. “Go lie down,” he says. As he is dressing, he hears his mother complain because they have to go, and they say they have to go. He hears the sound of the car driving away, the sound of his mother closing doors, turning off lights and heading for the bedroom. He walks and stops short in front of her room. She notices him and, as she lies down, tells him to go to bed. He doesn’t move. “Close the door!” she yells and gets up, brusquely slamming it shut. He lowers his eyes. A short while later, he leans his swollen face against the lock, peering through it. Silently, he presses his body against the door.
Nilton Resende is a literary professor and researcher and also an actor. His books include O orvalho e os dias (poetry) and Diabolô (short stories). Recent work includes a stage adaptation and production of Thomas Mann’s story ‘Mario and the Magician’ under the title The Magician, for his theatre company Ganymedes. He comes from Maceió, a state capital in Northern Brazil.
Alison Entrekin has translated many Brazilian works into English, including City of God by Paulo Lins, The Eternal Son by Cristovão Tezza and Budapest by Chico Buarque, which was voted one of the 10 best books published in the UK in 2004 and a finalist in the 2004 Independent Foreign Fiction Award.
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SUMMERTIME LÚCIA BETTENCOURT TRANSLATED BY KIM HASTINGS Since November the temperature had been rising steadily. It had reached more than thirty degrees and nothing, not even the downpours that fell every so often, could reduce the sweltering daytime humidity. Those headed to work, dressed in their polyester uniforms, cotton shirts if they were lucky, sighed with envy, looking at the playboys in their skimpy swimsuits or baggy trunks, who mingled with a crowd of women in bikinis, or in bikini tops and shorts rolled down beneath their waists to hold iPods, or even those lycra shorts that cut into bum cracks and coloured the world of buttocks with hot, vibrant colours, stamping jiggling cheeks with flowers and stripes that became almost obscene with movement. Inside the van, the passengers were sweating and suffocating from the lack of air conditioning. A heavy woman complained: “Could we turn on the AC? It’s an oven back here!” “The AC isn’t working,” reported the thin man seated beside her. The two sat in silent resignation, sweating their disappointment. The heavy woman grumbled further that they ought to demand a discounted fare. “We pay more to travel by van because of the perks. . . . They’ve got to give a discount! . . . Or at least put up a notice saying the AC is broken!” The driver, who had been listening all along but pretending not to hear the complaints, scoffed between clenched teeth: “What for? Bunch of illiterates.” No one argued. It was too hot to fight; debate would only heat up the day, which at 7:30 in the morning had already hit twenty-nine degrees. The passengers looked outside the van and watched the slow traffic along the avenue. Trucks delivering coconuts, vans picking up passengers, city construction work on the right, state construction work on the left. The driver stopped, even though the van was full. The woman was young, her hair curly with stuff to make it look wet, her plump lips glistening as if she’d just eaten greasy sausage. “Can you take me to Santa Teresa?” She’d bent over to talk to the driver, sticking her face almost inside the vehicle, raising her haunches, so that every passerby felt aroused. “You, I’d even take you to Cidade de Deus!” The passengers held their breath, thinking he was going to change the
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designated route to satisfy the intruder. They only went back to breathing when he informed her that he was going to Castelo. “Well, drop me in Botafogo then.…” The passengers looked around. Where was she going to sit? On someone’s lap? Just then, the young guy seated up front, in the middle seat, seemed to wake up. The driver opened the door, to the distress of the cars in the middle lane, the only one moving just then, and the fellow hopped out, allowing the tart to enter. She let out a laugh, aware that she was quite a sight with her fleshy thighs and short skirt. Hugging her shoulder bag to her, she twisted herself into the row, settling in the seat vacated by the young man. Only then did the two men walk to the rear of the vehicle; the driver opened the hatchback, where the younger man fit in his scrawny body and long legs. The woman’s cheap perfume infiltrated everyone’s nostrils, but the scent was pleasant, better than the reek of sweat and musk the bodies were giving off. Suddenly, the men righted themselves, puffing out their chests, clearing their throats or trying to stretch out in the tight space. The driver, back in his seat, gloated over the thighs that brushed against his own hairy legs. He had the good fortune to be able to work in Bermuda shorts and an open shirt. Piqued, the heavy woman blew out her powerless heat and avoided the intruder’s look. The men sized up the newcomer and envied the passenger up front, the only one who could also enjoy the brunette’s nearness. This lasted a short while. Within moments, beneath the relentless sun, the bodies shrank back to their withered positions. The woman’s perfume was losing the battle against body odours and surrendered when a belch blared the heavy garlic on someone’s breath. The darkness of the tunnel was too brief for anyone to be impolite, and they soon arrived in Botafogo, with its boats and the promise of cooler air beneath the trees. The brunette was the first off. Next, an extremely quiet man, with a thick red nose protruding from a gaunt and poorly shaven face. The young fellow remained in the hatch until the end of the trip. When there was only one passenger left, he moved back up front and, removing a microphone from the glove compartment, began to announce the route for the way back. At that hour it was difficult to fill the van for the return trip, but there was always someone heading south. They dropped off the last passenger and, in a low move, driving up over the sidewalk, managed to shave ten minutes off the commute. At that point the temperature had already reached thirty-two. And it was only 8:00 in the morning.
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Lúcia Bettencourt is one of Brazil’s rising writers. Her first short story collection, A secretária de Borges (Borges’s Secretary), won the national SESC Prize for Literature and became a bestseller. Her third collection, O amor acontece (Love Happens), is forthcoming. Lúcia is currently writing a novel based on the life of Rimbaud. Kim M. Hastings was raised overseas and spent several years in São Paulo. For the past fifteen years, she’s been a freelance editor and translator. Her translations include fiction by Caio Fernando Abreu, Rubem Fonseca, Rachel Jardim, Adriana Lisboa, Alberto Mussa, Thalita Rebouças and Ronaldo Wrobel.
TWO-PERSON MONOLOGUE LEONARDO VILLA-FORTE TRANSLATED BY JACIARA TOPLEY LIRA He started by telling me that it was all interconnected: the colt, the earth, the skirt, the strawberry and so on; because it had all been very well thought out, the relationship between the colours, the clothes, how the rooms were separated and even the way the man scratched his ear, a small homage to his ex-wife who, despite being far away, was undeniably present in everything around him; and so, because all the elements were there together, there was a sense of urgency in the air and the congruence of these things provoked a flurry of poetry which would inevitably be perceived by anyone, pushing into the background all the care taken with technique leaving only the odour of sanctity which meant that not paying attention for a single second was the most damnable heresy, which made me a terrible sinner as at times I couldn’t concentrate, but I didn’t mention this in the conversation, more because I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of his verbiage which seemed to do him such good, than because I was afraid of exposing my extreme insensitivity or ignorance which, should that happen, I preferred to keep to myself; and so then I continued to hear about how careless the guy’s girlfriend was, leaving her bag on the wooden table, and how this was in stark contrast to his obsession, but that the spuriously casual way she put her lipstick on showed how much she wanted him to pretend, and pretend well, so that she could almost blindly believe that he couldn’t care less about what she did or said, that his only concern was to keep up the great performance in bed and nothing else, and it was because of this that while she put her lipstick on he didn’t watch
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and pretended it didn’t matter to him, and had he turned to watch she might have been capable of slapping him across the face for interrupting the way she followed the vital and detailed cadence in the acts of seduction to perfection, and then he said yes!, that it would be perfect because only a slap in the face could recover all the possibilities previously present, which might have been lost by unexpected dysrhythmia, and I had to ask for a few seconds to think about what he meant by this, but before I was able to piece together any clues to understanding this in my head he started to spew that the guy’s desperation when he ran after the colt which goes into the forest and comes back carried in his arms, dirty with red earth, was only there to be compared to the forcibly complacent reaction of the guy when the woman also feigns a final farewell, and that this showed how men have to tame their impulses and adopt more respectable attitudes because of a common policy of interacting with other people, but that when they interact with the unpretentious nature of the animal kingdom, they surrender without the slightest sign of self-reproach to the point of wallowing in the blackest and stickiest mud, which took us back to the primitive beauty of acts that are spontaneous and of pure reflex , whether they spring from a sense of honour or habits or from basic instincts, but which in the end, today, were all indistinguishable, like twins who wear the same clothes and have the same hairstyle, because he was already bothered by the way in which people nowadays compete with each other in any sphere of life, whether in the family, at work, in friendship or in relationships, as if that were the most natural attitude, including, as an even more irritating factor, the supposedly scientific basis for relatively influential theories of our time which maintain that a competitive attitude is basic and fundamental to the human race, given its undeniable descent from monkeys and chimpanzees, amongst other wild animals that fight each other for the females of the group as well as to extend their power over a specific region; and that was when I got lost, because when he talked about monkeys and chimpanzees, the images of these animals came to me so clearly that I became quite confused and could no longer see what the relationship was between all of this and the humble and purely friendly intentions of my initial question, which, proving I had taken in something he had said, made me slap him across the face, in the hope that things would go in a more pleasant direction after reminding him: I only asked what you thought of the film.
Leonardo Villa-Forte was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1985 and is a translator, writer, editorial producer and contributor to the magazine Pessoa. Part of his first book, ‘Two-person Monologue’ was highly commended in the 2009 Off-FLIP awards. He is the creator of the remixed literature site and project MixLit, which receives enthusiastic reviews across Brazil, Portugal and the United States. Jaciara Topley Lira is British Brazilian. She has long had a passion for languages, studying Spanish and Portuguese, and later on interpreting at university. She now works as a translator and interpreter in Rio de Janeiro.
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LEGENDA DA TELA: 'Lombra' - Rodrigo de Souza Leรฃo, 2009 Oil on canvas, 80 x 50 cm ACERVO MUSEU DE IMAGENS DO INCONSCIENTE, Rio de Janeiro PHOTO CREDIT: Tomรกs Rangel
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TWO POEMS ANGĂ‰LICA FREITAS TRANSLATED BY HILARY KAPLAN
[AT ELEVEN YEARS OLD] at eleven years old behind my grandmotherâ€™s house in fishing village z-3 i smoked a gol cigarette bought singly in a boteco where the salesgirl knew my mother the salesgirl looked at me sideways but gave me the cigarette all the same and there in the kitchen garden my sister a cousin and i took our first puffs it was really bad fear kicked the joy out of the five-centavo gol that one of us flicked away at the sound of an aunt a dog or the wind through the collard greens
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THE GOLDMINE OF MY MUM & MY AUNT it was called administration island or middle island where the two of them sold avon cosmetics arriving by motor boat with bundles of products lipstick mascara perfume and most of all rouge they were received by big-haired moustachioed housewives dishcloths on their shoulders snotty children in their laps my mum & my aunt proceeded with the beautifying of the natives restoring colour to their faces the whole spectrum of colours of an evening sky at lagoa dos patos blues and purples and oranges and pinks then they lent them mirrors the housewives of middle island bought a lot of makeup my mum & my aunt left loaded with cash
AngĂŠlica Freitas (b. 1973) is the author of Rilke Shake (2007). She co-edits the poetry journal Modo de Usar & Co. and lives in Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Poet and translator Hilary Kaplan received a 2011 PEN Translation Fund grant for her translation of Rilke Shake. Her translations appear in PEN America, World Literature Today, Rattapallax and Two Lines. She is completing her PhD on contemporary poetics and environmental culture at Brown University.
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THE TATTOOIST JOÃO PAULO CUENCA TRANSLATED BY JETHRO SOUTAR From: Roberta S. To: Cuenca / firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 20/10/2004 04.05 PM Subject: An admirer It’s just after midday. I sit on the train watching people come and go, their sullen faces, absent expressions. I see them carrying packages, handbags, holdalls. They unfold newspapers, read books, open magazines, or sit with their arms spread wide, taking up their own space as well as that of another. We reach the next stop, three stations before I get off. It doesn’t matter where I’m going or where I’ve come from. All that matters is what happens at the end of the journey, as I’ll come to explain. People jostle and try to rush faster than the train itself, as if the world might end without them. I amuse myself watching them from behind my shades, my smiling eyes hidden. And then I see him coming. His hands are empty but for his rings, and the fact that he’s not carrying anything fits my image of him. He stumbles clumsily. He has the look of a child and he’s thinner than the last time I saw him, when he was giving a talk. He stands by the door, languidly watching people looking out for their Albertos and Carmens. I smile inside when he looks at me, but I don’t flinch, remaining impassive. I cross my legs, open my handbag, find my notebook. I jot down a description of his trainers, wine-coloured with a white puma on each side. Olive green trousers, a sleeveless black shirt. We reach the next station and he moves into the corner. His movement is light, his bulk minimal. We’re on the move again. At the next stop some seats become free but he doesn’t sit down. He watches. I look at his face, his mouth, his small eyes. And I play a game of pretend and mentally undress him. The noise of the train, its violent shaking, hides voices, sweat, images. We get off. I change paths and follow him, hidden in amongst the crowd. For a few yards the two of us walk together, until we reach the escalator. He’s standing in front of me and I can smell him from the step behind, breathe him in. My writer, completely naked, ambles off the escalator and I imagine touching his bum, as if by accident. I can’t help but let out a giggle, weirdo. Once outside he blends in with the crowd and is devoured by a Copacabana ready to tell him its stories.
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R. In the months following the book’s launch I got all kinds of correspondence. Dozens of explanations for the meaning of the novel were created – readers wanted to explain to the author what it was he had written, stealing the meaning of the words and turning their creator into a puppet. The messages were all very different but they had one thing in common: they were all from women. Long letters came to my inbox from girls I didn’t know and, despite several invitations, didn’t want to know. Countless fawning messages went unanswered. It wasn’t that the letters made me feel particularly good or bad. I puffed with vanity for about five minutes, before disappearing back into a pit of despair. It felt somehow immoral to be admired like this. They must be mistaken. Reading opinions I considered idiotic made me less fond of what I had written. I got used to it eventually, as we get used to so many things in the course of our lives. Basically, it was more important for me to please myself than it was to please the writers of these letters, the newspaper critics, churchgoers, the editor, my new contemporaries. And I was no longer pleased. Nevertheless, I sought out my editor and told him I had an idea for a second novel. A lie, naturally. I needed the money. Contract signed, I was given some pocket change as an advance. Much less than was deserved. I spent the whole lot in a matter of months, leaving me penniless and bookless. Time wasn’t the problem: I had plenty of days and nights to spend as I pleased. The press had already started to talk about the book – ‘among the most anticipated of the year.’ They put my bearded face on an advert and announced the launch date. People started to say, “and how’s the book going?” The book with no first line or chapter. The book that didn’t even exist in the author’s head. No hay libro – no hay banda. Four months before my deadline, I received another letter, this time by post – registered. The sender, a certain Senhor Fernando Machado. I tore the envelope open. The guy had taken the trouble to print off what he’d written and send it by post. At the end, beneath a ‘yours sincerely,’ was his signature, an illegible scrawl that took up half the page. I thought I’d finally found an adversary as vain as myself. I gathered the sheets of paper together, poured myself a cup of coffee and sat down to read the letter, with all the ceremony that a letter deserves. Fernando Machado made a desperate defence of my book, in an apoplectic tone, as if I were somehow attacking it. This annoyed me and put me ill at ease, in that order. Maybe it was because Fernando described, in rich detail, how the book had influenced his way of thinking, the spiritual and physical reflexes it had provoked in him. According to Fernando, reading the book was as powerful as a ‘mystical experience’ - it had opened his eyes to a range
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of dormant feelings. As far as he was concerned, I was a writer unaware of my powers. So he treated me with a certain condescension, as if there were two of me: one who wrote the book and one who acted as agent to this superior authority – and, it naturally followed, was ignorant and weak. He said I should take care of myself, ignore the critics and shun literary influences, because I seemed not to have any and was operating at a different level – something he called a ‘vibration,’ a term he would go on to use hundreds of times. In the final paragraph of his bizarre letter, he said he would soon be making me an irresistible offer. Honest and virtuous work. And that he had left a token of his goodwill inside the smaller envelope. I recovered the scrunched up envelope from the bin and found that, sure enough, there was another envelope inside it, stuck on with glue. He must have wanted me to find out about the money only after I’d read the letter. It was a cheque, a travellers cheque, for five thousand dollars. I cashed the cheque at a bureau de change that very day and stuffed the real live money into my pockets. When I started to walk out, the teller became incredulous and tried to call me a taxi. I crossed the road and headed for the metro. If I were robbed, justice would be done. I didn’t feel the money was mine. It was hot and so I stopped off at the Colombo for a cold drink. I ordered a beer and something to go with it, then stared at my face, reproduced hundreds of times in the mirrors on the walls. There I was, alongside the waiters and tables, an interruption in the never-ending game of reflections. Then I went to a second-hand bookshop in the arcade and bought all the books and records they had by writers and artists beginning with the letter ‘J’. I did it to liven up the afternoon and to see the shop assistants’ reaction. But they didn’t say anything, not until I was on my way out and one of them helped me with my bags and tried to strike up a conversation. Too late. I put everything in a taxi, gave the driver my address and told him to leave it all outside my front door. I was hoping he’d at least steal the books. 2. Everyone has his price and Senhor Fernando Machado obviously had his reasons for believing five thousand dollars was mine. I imagined he’d want to contract my services to write a book, which he would then pass off as his own. Lots of people are desperate to see their name on a book cover, and he was certainly the type. Or maybe he’d want me to teach him how to write, give him classes on literature, the creative process, literary projects and the like. I’d waste my time in such a way if he paid me. Two weeks later I got a package in the post, with some money and another envelope inside. Inside that envelope was a simple and explicit text. I was to sign a contract of confidentiality and return to sender, thus confirming my interest. I would be paid each month, a sum double the amount of the advance. For the next six months my task would simply be to study the files he sent me and write reports on them. At a later date I would receive more
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detailed instructions, all of it by post. The contract he’d enclosed was straightforward and I signed it right away. I posted it to the return address – a PO Box – and got a package a few days later. It contained the agreed monthly sum, a short note and a file. The file consisted of several photos of a child, drawings, homework, children’s essays and other remnants of school life; letters he’d received; passages from a diary: fragments of Fernando Machado’s life. I was sent such a file every month, along with my cheque, all of it equally tedious in terms of content. The guy was born in 1968. A Zona Sul family, military grandfather, apartment on Rainha Elizabeth. He went to Santo Inácio high school, studied engineering at a private college, did a post-grad in the US and a masters in France. He returned to the country to join the management of a multinational. He’d written a diary since the age of 25, continuing up to the present, age 37. The sad story of an immature man who’d married too young and fathered two kids on autopilot. He’d drifted along, impervious to his own feelings. He never stopped to think about why he’d got married, had kids, acquired money, a car, an apartment. He’d been out with a few girls from the office and shagged a few whores, but was never particularly into that kind of thing. He spent his weekends playing tennis with colleagues from the corporation. He was programmed for success and the easy life, to sit smiling on sofas in houses he owned, like in the brochures delivered by girls in shorts in Ipanema. By the time I was due to receive the final file, I had enough notes and material to write a 500-page biography. At first there had been something repugnant about knowing all the details of somebody else’s life, but with time I came to pity the protagonist. I ended up knowing beforehand how he would react to things and was able to anticipate the course his life took. This little game enabled me to carry on reading. When I wasn’t reading about him I was busy spending his money in stupid fashion. I bought expensive meals for people I barely knew. I contracted home carers from the newspaper, poured beer over their heads as I asked them questions about philosophy and the life and death of the cosmos. I bought old photographic cameras that no longer worked. I stayed in hotels and pretended to be German; though I couldn’t speak a word, nobody ever doubted me. No one in Rio de Janeiro has ever been able to speak German. I stopped answering the phone. I went to Cinelândia almost every day. I liked arriving halfway through a film. I would watch until the end, wait for them to clean out the auditorium, for couples to unstick themselves, the hordes of single women to leave and the place to become empty. Then they’d all come back, to the sound of popcorn and bullets, trailers, adverts and the start of the film. I liked watching the start having already seen the end. It was like being able to go back in time, to
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get divorced and then kiss your ex-wife again for the first time. Already knowing the outcome, knowing you’d end up hating the woman, that she’d make you want to kill yourself. But so what? As long as the film was good. I completely abandoned the book idea I’d sold to my editor six months previously, and felt very little remorse. I lied openly to anyone who asked me about it, dutiful journalists and flatterers. The Fernando Machado project took up all my ‘constructive’ time, if you could call it that. And I’d already begun to outline the book of his life – in a short space of time I’d come to know him better than I knew myself. When the final package arrived, it contained not a file of papers but a letter, handwritten by Fernando Machado himself. 3. Rio, March 10, 2005 Dear Cuenca, By this stage in proceedings you should be fully informed. About me, my family, my job and the film of mould growing over my life. I’d like to recall an episode for you. Once upon a time a tutor of mine at school sent my mother a letter because I had painted a wound on my foot and asked to be excused from class. The letter was included in the second file I sent you. I learned to fashion these wounds from a book called ‘The Spy’s Handbook’, which I referenced in the files. It was my favourite book and I took it with me everywhere I went. I learned from it to look in car windows and shop fronts to tell whether I was being followed. I learned to create secret identities and to write in code. And I learned to make my first wounds. I used Nescau chocolate powder and blackcurrant syrup to simulate the blood, plus nail polish straight on the skin for extra emphasis. I outlined the scab in black felt-tip and used red and purple to finish it off. It looked so realistic that my mother, friends and teachers always fell for it. As I got older, I continued to make these wounds, but in other forms. I fell in love with a girl, we were together for a few years, as you know. Then two or three others until I married Carol. The most beautiful wound to date. They leave us, dear Cuenca, but the wounds remain. With time I learned that they cause pain, even though they’re not real. I invent scars and see them stuck all over my body, until I am nothing but a collection of sores. Just as seconds destroy hours and days, I accumulate more wounds than ever I lacked, until I become a big empty hole, covered in gaps from my neck down. I am now more what I’ve lost than I am what I have. You know this better than anyone. Maybe I sent you all this to dispel the idea that there wasn’t enough time. I feel blocked, but there’s nothing for me to move out of the way. I wake up every day and feel sick. Perhaps I’m not making myself clear. Let me explain.
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A few months ago I decided to end it all. I encouraged a friend, via rather subtle means, if such a thing is possible, to insinuate himself into Carol’s affections, no matter how much she resisted. It was easy to persuade him. From the photos you’ll have seen how beautiful she is, and from the videos what a good screw. I know that the two of them meet, but that she hasn’t yet dared give in. This friend is a great guy and he’ll be a good provider for her and my children. Matters at the firm are likewise taken care of. And I, myself, am quite calm. I’d planned it that my life would end in a clean and quick fashion. I arranged it all with a lad from the favela near home. He was to shoot me in my car and take my money. Thus I would be the victim of an assault and not a suicide, which would shame the children. I read your book recently, and I promise not to talk about it any more. But it gave me an idea which made me renounce my plan. I didn’t send you all this stuff about my life in order for you to write my biography, as you must have thought. My life, as you know better than anyone, doesn’t even merit a short film. The main thing is that I’ve renounced the suicide plan. Kind of. Tomorrow I’m leaving everything and moving to an apartment on Rua Santa Clara in Copacabana. It’s completely empty. I’ll arrive with no more than the clothes on my back. Cuenca, I’ve informed you so thoroughly about myself in preparation for a new job. It’s not literature. It’s not cinema. It’s not theatre. Every day you’ll have two meetings with me: one at ten in the morning and one at ten at night. Each will last half an hour. You will work through the night and provide me with instructions in the morning on how to spend my day. At night, I’ll tell you what happened, giving you the material to prepare the next day. I will follow your instructions blindly, no matter what they are. As you can see, it’s quite simple: from now on, I’ll pay you to write what I do with my life. I want you to craft your literature on me, as a tattooist paints his designs on a person’s skin. And I know you’ll accept the job.
João Paulo Cuenca was born in Rio. His novels include Corpo Presente, O dia Mastroianni and O único final feliz para uma história de amor é um acidente. In 2007 the Hay Festival and Bogotá World Book Capital included him among the ‘Bogotá 39’ – as one of the 39 most exciting young authors in Latin America. His novels have been published in Portugal, Spain, Italy and Germany. A former São Paulo resident, Jethro Soutar is a London-based writer and translator of Portuguese and Spanish.
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TWO CALIGRAFÍAS ADRIANA LISBOA TRANSLATED BY DIANE GROSKLAUS WHITTY
ALTITUDE Taking the bus up into the mountains is different. Taking the bus up into the mountains, at night, is different. And if it’s a July night, and you’re in a window seat with no one beside you, and nobody’s talking on the bus and you hear nothing but the quiet purr of the engine (new bus), and if there’s no fog, and if there’s something like a piano playing Chopin inside your chest, then everything’s so different that it’s almost as if the world had been created some twenty-four hours ago. Someone told you they went out yesterday and got back home at five and slept until one in the afternoon and had macaroni with ground beef and chopped frankfurters for lunch. Someone taught you how to say konnichi wa, a Japanese greeting. Someone looked at you kindly, someone else with curiosity (you were probably chewing your lips and making faces while you read in the subway), a taxi driver gave you a bit of a nasty look because it was a short run. Someone kept staring at you, danger in the eyes, and you almost buckled under. All of this was earlier today. And now you are taking the bus up into the mountains and your soul is made of macaroni with ground beef and metro and a book and konnichi wa. Taking the bus up into the mountains is different. At night. The sky is dark, with stars, oh so many stars, flung haphazardly across it, and the trees are grey and sometimes pass right outside the windowpane. Along one stretch they drop completely away and you see the cities down below, clumps of light like tiny organised fires, and the biggest of them all, the huge fire, uncontrollable but pacified, is Rio, a flat sparkling strip that you left behind on the nine o’clock bus. And suddenly you wonder: how many metres up, how many kilometers away? But what does it matter if the world is twenty-four hours old, and if it is here, in this space between, that everything happens.
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THE PRESENT for Claudia Roquette-Pinto At the red light a boy asks me for a handout. He sees my weary face, my muscles signalling urgent needs, my life catching its breath, my fears. At the red light I say I’m fleeing from something toward something else far away. The boy gives me a handout: his smile. As time stands still, I realise it’s me smiling in the boy while it’s me here on this side, in my car, and the boy and I share our gaze. Without despair, without hope. When the light turns green, my hands are slow to go back to the world honking outside, begging for a handout. I feel the car engine nuzzle the pavement, and I am coming from something headed toward something else perhaps not so very far away.
Born in Rio, Adriana Lisboa is the award-winning author of ten fiction books, and has been translated and published in the US, Mexico, France and Italy, among many other countries. Specialising in academia and the arts, Diane Grosklaus Whitty has translated prose and poetry by Marina Colasanti, The Devil and the Land of the Holy Cross by Laura de Mello e Souza, and Baroque: the Soul of Brazil by Affonso Romano de Sant’Anna.
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MONKEY HILL DAMIAN PLATT
When Rio won the 2016 Olympics it was as if the whole city pinched itself. Euphoric crowds sang and danced on the beach while, on the big screen above their heads, President Lula and Sergio Cabral, the state governor, hugged and wept. On buses and in backstreets people went about their business in quiet surprise. Although cariocas are dreamers, years of decline and disappointment have tempered their natural exuberance. But the next day it seemed that everyone was thinking the same thing: maybe, just maybe, life in Rio might improve. Palpable optimism hung in the air for a few weeks before dissipating in an instant when war broke out in Vila Isabel, a bohemian middle-class neighbourhood. One Friday after midnight, gangs of soldiers from the Comando Vermelho (Red Command) drug faction invaded a favela called Morro dos Macacos, Monkey Hill. The initial invasion was slick and well organised and they drove up the hill in stolen cars and vans where they moved quickly to take over strategic points in the community. Then the plan went awry and the invaders became trapped between the police and their rivals. Intense gun battles on both sides of the hill went on until Saturday evening. Live TV broadcast images of shoppers taking cover in doorways and behind cars while the police armoured vehicle, the caveir達o (big skull) bore down residential streets. Bullets hit a police helicopter brought down by its pilot only seconds before it went up in flames. There were six police inside: three died. When the invasion began to fail, CV bosses from other areas in the city sent minions out to burn buses, a traditional faction tactic for protesting and distracting attention. A mood of instability took hold and people cancelled shopping trips, nights out and parties. Most cariocas stayed at home to watch constant replays of the helicopter circling and churning thick black smoke before becoming a fireball and crashing into the ground, as any residual high spirits about the Olympic victory dissolved into torn metal, blood and ash. Evandro Jo達o Silva, my colleague and friend, was the charismatic founder of one of the successful AfroReggae cultural centres, and one of few in the city who tried to not let events spoil his weekend. But the city centre by night, far from the war zone in Vila Isabel, carried its own risks. Evandro was shot dead in a street robbery early on Sunday morning, killed walking from one nightspot to another. Security cameras recorded the attack, and over the next days Globo showed the footage on all its news programmes: first the attack on Evandro, who fights two men who jump him from behind and shoot him during the struggle, and later on, a clip that shows a police vehicle drive past him as he lies dying in a shop window. Then even more footage
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comes to light that shows the same police officers apparently capturing and then releasing the men responsible for the murder. The scandal that surrounded Evandro’s killing temporarily knocked the battle for Monkey Hill off top spot on the news. The Public Security Secretary later admitted he had prior intelligence about the invasion, but alleged he lacked the necessary manpower to take preventive action. The high death toll included three men shot in a car, whom police initially described as criminals, but whose families proved they were innocent residents caught in the crossfire. This was the first time high profile combat had broken out in the city since the declaration of the successful Olympic bid and images of the helicopter on fire were repeated on newscasts across the world as presenters questioned Rio’s ability to host a peaceful Olympics. Rio is in the spotlight and, for the first time in many years, a newsroom priority. Lucy Ash is a BBC radio journalist who came in the weeks following the failed invasion and employed me as a fixer. She was hard-nosed, persistent and insisted that we visit Monkey Hill to speak to the mothers of the innocent men who died during the invasion. No one was able to put us in touch with community leaders, so we made our way to one of the entrances to the favela and asked locals how to find the residents association. Someone made a call and asked us to wait. It was late afternoon and there was typical Rio warmth in the buzz of conversation in bars, the to and fro of shoppers and the shouts of greetings between friends. Vila Isabel is tucked away in the folds of the city between giant rocks and hills and here the rhythm of life is less hectic than in better-known neighbourhoods. We paid for several rounds of beer and then a gari, a community street sweeper, turned up in his bright orange uniform. He got in the car and we drove through a tunnel that took us to the other side of the hill. Grey clouds clogged the skies as our car climbed the trash strewn cobbled street, and when Edilson, our driver, wound down the window, heavy air closed in. Residents coming home from work mingled with locals drinking at kiosk bars. Our guide was keen to show off his pimped ride and called to friends according to their football team “fala Vascaino! e aí Flamengo!”. Fatigue was visible on stretched faces and when we came to a checkpoint, teenagers in baseball caps handling shiny automatic pistols stepped forward to see who was in the car. The street sweeper leant out, gave a thumbs-up, and told them he was taking some journalists to the association. They waved us on. Further along the road, we stopped to speak to the cagy President of the residents association. He kept talk to a minimum and introduced us to someone who could take us to meet the families. Suited and carrying a briefcase, this man guided us further into the favela, first up and then down a curved road offset by houses, shops and a panorama of the city twinkling
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in the early evening. As we navigated a U-bend he showed us where the three men were killed. They were driving in the same direction as we were, when someone in the road above them opened fire. We parked and continued on foot. More boys with guns peered at us from the gloom of an abandoned bullet-pocked house that commanded the top of the hill. We had come full circle around the favela and below us was the point where we had waited for the gari a short time ago. Then we climbed steps and walked single file along an alley that twisted between primordial boulders where brick dwellings were hewn into the side of the rock face. A group of women on a doorstep stopped their conversation when we appeared. An impossibly steep and narrow set of tiled steps led into a large, clean airconditioned room. The walls were painted sky blue and the neatly corniced ceiling, white. There were chairs, two sofas, a dining table, family photos, CD shelves and a widescreen plasma TV. The room gave onto a kitchen and there was a second room on the left and a corridor to the right. The house was orderly and snug. A heavy white woman with a crumpled face sat on the largest sofa. We took our shoes off. Maria was the owner of the house and the mother of one of the boys. Other people came in quietly and sat or leant against the walls. Maria answered Lucy’s question through sobs. “Yes they’d been to a party, because like all young people they have the right to go out and enjoy themselves, and then they heard the shooting start. So they decided to come home and that’s when…” She broke off, picked up a framed photo of her son, who worked as an auxiliary at a private hospital, and circled the room, picture in hand. When she sat down again, another woman came and put a hand on her shoulder, while a man appeared from a room in the corner. These were the other boys’ parents. Out of five in the car, two survived. They were close friends and Maria put on a DVD that showed them all at a birthday party on a schooner a few months ago. The room filled with sunny scenes of happy, good-looking young people partying underneath Sugarloaf Mountain. Maria touched wrinkled fingers to her son’s face, and stayed standing by the television with her hand on the screen, drifting in and out of coherence, now talking about his death and how they will be suing the state, now talking about the personal problems he had shared with her, troubles with his girlfriend. While the other parents explained they believed the invading traffickers received support from corrupt police, that it might even have been police who killed their children, Maria went into her son’s bedroom, where ironed clothes were stacked and Flamengo team posters decorated the walls.
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There was a collection of model cars neatly lined on a shelf and a TV showing soccer. She threw herself on his bed. We offered our last condolences and left. Raindrops spattered as we made our way in silence along the alley. Inside the gloom of the abandoned house the traffickers and their guns made sad silhouettes in the last light.
POSTFACE This piece captures one of the episodic moments of chaos which have periodically paralysed Rio over the last 25 years. It was especially sad for me as it involved the death of a friend in a random robbery which was unlinked to the main ‘spectacle’ but which symbolised the general instability across the city. Monkey Hill is now occupied by what is called a UPP - (Police Pacification Unit). Although I don’t like the terminology, this new policing strategy has brought peace, for now, to large chunks of the city and hopefully dark moments like the Monkey Hill weekend will soon be consigned to the past. Rio is getting better. At the same time, I don’t know whether or really expect that Maria will ever find out who killed her son.
Damian Platt lives in Rio. He is co-author of “Culture is Our Weapon: Making Music and Changing Lives in Rio de Janeiro” (2010). In 2011 he was awarded an MBE for services to human rights and community development in the city. He continues to work both in and outside favelas.
THE STAPFNUNSK REPORT –
A DECENT MAN WRITTEN & TRANSLATED BY
SÉRGIO RODRIGUES The witness Olaf Stapfnunsk, born in Stockholm, naturalised Brazilian, 48 years of age, owner of a private gym, resident of … street in the city of ..., after swearing by the Law, stated that: by 9am on Thursday 7th October this year, he had arrived at his gym, located on ... street, and went straight up to the office, where he couldn’t help noticing the absence of Totó, his subordinate, full name Alceu Gouveia Nunes, who should have been there by then; this fact made him swear angrily in Swedish (subba was the word he swore, deemed untranslatable by the witness) and, in fury over Totó’s lack of professionalism, grab the phone and get on alone with the scheduled morning task of the month, namely, telemarketing to the neighbourhood; let it be stated that this telemarketing work consisted of offering prospective clients a week’s worth of free gym access, work that he, the witness, did not enjoy doing at all, yet had already done on a few occasions, due to Totó’s unreliability; and so for the next hour, until 10am, the witness spoke with five potential customers, of whom two showed interest in his offer and two gave a blunt no; the fifth customer (chronologically the second, as it were) said neither yes nor no, only remained silent until the silence seemed to be broken by a thud, and did not hang up, so he waited for a few seconds, saying a couple of hellos and not getting any response, then rang off and went on to the next call; having finished the last one, he then proceeded to the gym floor to work out a little and to supervise the overall functioning of his business; only a few hours later, already hungry and intending to go out for lunch, did the witness go back to his office to look something up and there, on skimming through a news portal, learned of the famous writer Ettore Luxemburgo’s death by heart failure, that morning; the piece the witness read said the man had just been found stiff on the floor beside his bed, wearing pyjamas, phone in hand; not being a man of letters, he had frankly never heard of the famous writer until that moment, but recognised the name of one of the potential customers he had called that morning; and yes, the witness is positive about the name, the foreign flavour of Ettore and Luxemburgo together being, mnemonically, a killer; reading on, he then scanned a piece of news about the just-awarded Nobel Prize for Literature and (though not a man of letters, as already stated) LITRO | 30
was amused to learn that the institution that granted the famous prize was known as the Swedish Academy, Academia Sueca, just like his gym, and found himself absurdly torn between feelings of gratitude and resentment toward those countrymen – gratitude for their free advertising of his trademark, resentment for their being such a bunch of copycats; however, the witness declares he soon abandoned such wayward thinking because it dawned on him, suddenly and with sharp clarity, what it was that had happened that morning in the late writer Ettore Luxemburgo’s bedroom, ie, the fact that the phone had rung and the writer heard a voice speaking Portuguese with a heavy Nordic accent say, “Mr. Ettore Luxemburgo? You won the Swedish Academy’s prize!”; the same line used, it is true, for all five calls; but no, he does not feel guilty at all, rather deems it a matter of fate, as he is sure the honorable judge will see it too; in any case, his sense of human decency would never allow him to keep his story from the authorities, for he knows he did, although unintentionally, cause a man’s death; and if anything can console him at such a sombre realisation, it is to think that Ettore Luxemburgo died happy in his mistake, albeit at the expense of becoming a joke for eternity.
Sérgio Rodrigues, fiction writer, literary critic and journalist, is the author of six books of various genres: novels, short stories and non-fiction. He blogs about literature and language issues for Veja.com, the online version of the largest weekly magazine in Latin America.
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DESERT TATIANA SALEM LEVY TRANSLATED BY JACIARA TOPLEY LIRA
The water has been lapping his feet for a while, since he arrived at the beach and installed himself there, on the shore. Every day he performs the same ritual: he wakes up at half-past five, has a cup of black coffee and goes down to the beach. He walks from the entrance of his building, located in the inner part of Copacabana, to the sand. Then he doesn’t walk anymore. They’ve already told him that he should walk, that it’s good for the heart, especially at his age. But his heart prefers to admire the sea, which isn’t very rough today, but does have waves, the kind which break little by little, they reach the shore without rushing, caressing the sand. He does everything as he does every day. Soon, very soon, in his thoughts, which follow the movement of the waves, a memory will appear which has been with him for a long time. Thirty or forty years, he can’t remember exactly anymore. It’s always like this, the memory comes gently, without warning. It comes, and he allows it to spread, like a watercolour painting, the shapes revealing themselves behind the stains. It could have been triggered by some external event, a bigger wave which covered his body, a cloud which blocked out the sun. But no, it never comes from outside: it’s as if it was there, keeping watch. He looks at the sea, his eyes wide open, and sees everything: he sees himself drinking a beer at a bar, a lot younger, but not really young, and her coming closer, her long nose, dark skin, black hair and hips ideal for belly dancing. When she gets to the bar, smiling, and holds out her arms, too hairy for a woman from the tropics, he steps back, his eyes misting, his dreams shattered. She doesn’t understand. Neither does he, but he leaves anyway. Immediately afterwards, another image comes, one from a little before that one. He is sitting at the same bar, and sees a woman, who seems Arab, for the first time. They don’t even know each other, but she smiles as if she had known him since time began. She doesn’t need to say anything, it is written on her lips that they have always been together, and this is how they will stay until the last day, and even after that, if there is an after. He is troubled by
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this smile, and knows that his trembling hands say the same thing he does, communing in a single silence. Finally, he sees the image of the images which passed through him in the short space of time which preceded her arrival at the bar. He sees the first moments of passion, the nights they would spend together, he sees the party which would put them in the same house, the children they would have together, the affection growing through the years, he sees himself older, next to her, on the sand of Copacabana, the water lapping their feet. Every morning they would have coffee together and, together, they would go down to admire the sea. She would be his desert rose, and he didn’t need to do anything, except calmly open his arms to greet her at the bar. Now he looks at the sea and sees the sea. He no longer sees a long nose, dark skin. It has been so long since that happened, sometimes he doesn’t even know why the memory appears like that, so often, before the waters which he sees every day. He looks at the sea and understands that since he left, leaving the bar with dusty eyes, silence between his teeth, she, the woman with hairy arms, an eastern air, became the sea, the sand, the ladybird tickling his leg. Ever since he left, she is the whole world.
Tatiana Salem Levy was born in 1979. She has published two novels, A Chave de casa (“The key of Smyrna”) and Dois Rios (“Two Rivers”). The Key of Smyrna won the 2008 São Paulo Literature Prize for the best Brazilian debut novel. It has been published in Brazil, Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Turkey and Romania. Jaciara Topley Lira is British Brazilian. She has long had a passion for languages, studying Spanish and Portuguese, and later on interpreting at university. She now works as a translator and interpreter in Rio de Janeiro.
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TWO POEMS RAMON MELLO TRANSLATED BY THEREZA ROCQUE DA MOTTA
at the selarón staircase songs shattered feelings coloured under the rain walking for months
I put an ad in the paper I’ve asked everyone but no one has news from you
two hundred and fifteen degrees to find out he does not accept the black umbrella it’ll be a revenge
meanwhile the flip-flops continue to rest in the laundry area behind the door between the mop and the floor cloth since that night I’ve only walked barefoot it’s my protest
Ramon Mello is a poet and journalist, author of “Mouldy Records” (Língua Geral, 2009). Thereza Christina Rocque da Motta is a poet, editor and publisher at Ibis Libris (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil).
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LISTINGS APRIL ATTRACTIONS The Cutty Sark Reopens in Spring 2012 The last and most famous tea-clipper, which broke all records for speed in 1885, closed to the public on 5 November 2006 in order to start work on the planned conservation programme. It is due to reopen with improved displays and access in Spring 2012 Blue Badge Olympic Marathon Walk Launches 21 April 2012 Book your place on a new walking tour highlighting the route of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Marathon, the perfect tour for those planning to watch the London Marathon the next day. This is not the full 26 miles 385 yards, just a nine kilometre stroll taken during the course of a day and with a break for lunch. You will learn why marathons are always that particular distance, and the clue lies in the London Games of 1908. Youâ€™ll hear tales of the competitor who covered part of the course by carriage and of runners who were plied with champagne and brandy during the competition. Your Blue Badge Tourist Guide will help you pick the best spots from which to view this free event.
EXHIBITIONS Palaces Science Museum, 2 April - 28 July 2012 Palaces is a participatory artwork made from thousands of milk teeth donated by children around the UK. Standing two metres high, the sculpture resembles a coral castle under water. Designed by artist Gina Czarnecki, the aim of the project is to raise questions about consent and the reuse of human tissues in medical research, as well as to draw attention to sources of stem cells in the body.
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The Wild, the Beautiful and the Damned Hampton Court Palace, 5 April - 30 September 2012 This major new exhibition will shine a light on the decadence of the Baroque court at Hampton Court Palace. Exploring the hedonistic world of the royal court during the reigns of Charles II, James II, William III, Mary III and Anne (1660-1714), the exhibition will introduce visitors to the monarchs, courtiers and courtesans who illuminated Hampton Court in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Gross und Klein The Barbican, 13 - 29 April 2012 Sydney Theatre Company lead the Barbican’s London 2012 season with Cate Blanchett, the Company’s Co-Artistic Director, in Benedict Andrews’ production of Gross und Klein (Big and Small) by Botho Strauss. This Barbican co-commission has a new English text by Martin Crimp. First staged in 1978, Gross und Klein whisks audiences down a rabbit hole and into a curious Wonderland-like world where Lotte (Cate Blanchett) is always trying to fit in. Like Carroll’s Alice, sometimes Lotte is too big for her surroundings and sometimes too small to be noticed within them. An Evening of Burlesque Blackheath Hall, 21 April 2012 Direct from London’s West End, the UK’s first and only touring burlesque show is coming to town. Showcasing award-winning talent from across the country, it’s an opportunity to see some of the world’s biggest burlesque stars in the flesh. Theatregoers are promised corsets, killer heels and stockings aplenty. An Evening of Burlesque features an all-star cast of beautiful and elegant performers. World Shakespeare Festival Various London locations, 23 April - 9 September 2012 The World Shakespeare Festival, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, will run from 23 April to 9 September 2012, celebrating how the world performs, teaches and engages with Shakespeare, and will form part of the London 2012 Festival. In collaboration with many partners, including the Roundhouse, the Barbican, the National Theatre, and the BBC, we will welcome the world and celebrate Shakespeare as the world’s playwright, showcasing the best of UK and international creative talent, exploring Shakespeare’s place in the lives of young people and harnessing the energy and creativity of emerging artists and amateur companies.
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Globe to Globe Shakespeare’s Globe, 23 April - 9 June 2012 For the first time, 37 international companies present all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in 37 different languages in a kaleidoscopic, six week festival starting on Shakespeare’s birthday. An opening weekend of celebrations includes an adaptation of Venus and Adonis by the Isango Ensemble from South Africa, a public open day at the Globe to celebrate Shakespeare and the worlds’ languages, and Ngākau Toa’s Troilus and Cressida beginning the festival with a haka. Globe to Globe is part of the World Shakespeare Festival and the Cultural Olympiad 2012. Sundance London 2012 The O2, 26 - 29 April 2012 Robert Redford, The Sundance Institute and AEG Europe present film screenings, live music performances, master classes and more at the inaugural Sundance London. This new four-day multidisciplinary arts festival will be held at The O2, the world’s most popular music and entertainment venue. The Sundance Film festival will include film screenings, live music performances, discussions, panels and other public cultural programming. St George’s Day Menu Boyds Brasserie, 23 April 2012 Boyds Brasserie, situated just off Trafalgar Square, will be preparing a patriotic menu for St George’s Day to showcase the best of English produce. The special four-course sample menu will feature a selection of favourite English dishes including: Roast rump steak, claret sauce with horseradish, creamed potato and roasted root vegetables, and Castle pudding with custard. Brandy Nan Afternoon Tea Andaz Liverpool Street, running throughout April 2012 To celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, 1901 at Andaz Liverpool Street offers a series of afternoon teas fit for a queen. Each month, you can enjoy a unique afternoon tea inspired by the five longest serving British queens - and April’s afternoon tea will be dedicated to Queen Anne. Her indelible mark left us not only with the races at Ascot, but it was also during her reign that the Duke of Marlborough defeated forces of Louis XVI at the Battle of Blenheim. The tea includes sandwiches of sauerkraut, white sausage and sweet mustard, Fleschkase with fried onion and salmon with lemon mayo and pickled vegetables, along with a selection of pastries. The specialty cocktail of the month is cognac stirred with red fruit tea, honey, Orget and cherry syrup, with a dash of Bitters.
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The Botanical Afternoon Tea InterContinental London Park Lane, from 1 April 2012 Celebrating its location overlooking the iconic Royal Parks, The Wellington Lounge at InterContinental London Park Lane is introducing The Botanical Afternoon Tea, which mixes peels, berries and herbaceous botanicals for a sensory experience. The Botanical Tea presents a contemporary twist on tradition and begins with a botanical pear drop that gently bursts in the mouth. Open-face sandwiches follow with nettle marinated asparagus rolled in sirloin of beef; and Scottish lobster and shrimp with caviar and fresh dill. Warm citrus peel scones are served with quince preserve and clotted cream along with a selection of stunning desserts. The tea is paired with a specially created ginbased cocktail from The Arch Bar, or a choice from The Wellington Lounge’s bespoke tea menu. Russie Blanche at K Spa K West Hotel, from April 2012 K Spa will launch Russie Blanche as its newest product and treatment range, and will be the first spa in the UK to offer Russie Blanche treatments. Russie Blanche was developed by former Miss USSR and fashion model Julia Lemigova. The new treatments will combine the traditions of a Russian “Banïya” with French refinement and know-how, plus all products are formulated using anti-stress Russian plants and 100% pure, natural essential oils. K Spa’s hot areas and Snow Paradise reflect accurately the ancient therapies and remedies performed in Russia. Dickens on the Thames: a literary boat trip Boat tour with the Museum of London, 5 May 2012 Spend an afternoon boating down the Thames, discovering Dickens’ London and the river at its heart. From Festival Pier to Greenwich and back, experts Alex Werner and Tony Williams (co-authors of Dickens’s Victorian London) will uncover the key sights of the author’s life and works - from the blacking factory he worked in as a boy to the Limehouse pub in Our Mutual Friend. The Garden of Edible and Useful Plants Chelsea Physic Garden, opening 23 May 2012 London’s oldest botanical garden is creating an inspiring new halfacre garden. The Garden of Edible and Useful Plants will display an extraordinary range of plant species on which humanity depends; from forest fruits and land restoration plants to super foods and plants used for hygiene, science and the arts. The new garden will showcase a diverse collection of productive and functional plants, incorporating both the beautiful and bizarre. Exciting new
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features include a compact vineyard, a living plant amphitheatre and a stone pier to view Robert Fortune’s tank pond. Universe of Sound 23 May - 8 July 2012 A virtual Philharmonia Orchestra will take up residence at the Science Museum. An immersive digital installation will employ the latest digital and interactive technologies to reveal the inner workings of each orchestral section and invite the public to interact, create and explore. The project will include a live performance of The Planets, the commission of a new work to allow the audience to develop their own musical journey. Build the Truce Expressions of Movement The Grove, 1 May - 30 September 2012 London’s country estate, The Grove is opening its gardens and grounds this summer to celebrate and champion one of the most exciting and dynamic art forms - sculpture. The curator, Virginia Grub has invited 24 sculptors and artists, to create pieces which are loosely inspired by 2012’s two great events: The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics. The result is an engaging and surprising collection of 57 pieces together titled Expressions of Movement. Come and interact with the sculptures whilst enjoying lunch or tea at the Grove. All sculptures and paintings on display will be available for sale. Bauhaus: Art as Life Barbican, 3 May - 12 August 2012 Exploring the world’s most famous modern art and design school, Bauhaus: Art as Life is the biggest Bauhaus exhibition in the UK in over 40 years. From its avant-garde arts and crafts beginnings the Bauhaus shifted towards a more radical model of learning uniting art and technology. A driving force behind Modernism, it further sought to change society in the aftermath of World War 1, to find a new way of living. This major new Barbican Art Gallery show presents the pioneering and diverse artistic production that makes up the school’s turbulent fourteen-year history from 1919 to 1933 and delves into the subjects at the heart of the Bauhaus - art, design, people, society and culture. For more information contact Ann Bern
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WORDS GET YOU FURTHER
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LITRO | 114 BRAZIL II: RIO
“He’s standing in front of me and I can smell him from the step behind, breathe him in. My writer, completely naked, ambles off the escalator and I imagine touching his bum, as if by accident. I can’t help but let out a giggle, weirdo. Once outside he blends in with the crowd and is devoured by a Copacabana ready to tell him its stories.”
- The Tattooist by João Paulo Cuenca TRANSLATED BY JETHRO SOUTAR
Obra publicada com apoio do Ministério da Cultura do Brasil / Fundação Biblioteca Nacional This work is published with the support of the Brazilian Ministry of Culture / National Libray Foundation
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