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Bossa Nova: The Story of the Brazilian Music That Seduced the World Hardcover – 1 Oct 2000


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: A Cappella Books; 1st English Language Ed edition (1 Oct. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556524099
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556524097
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 623,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"makes a golden era . . . accessible to a generation who never knew the poet pioneers of this Brazilian jazz form" -- The New York Times

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In the summer of 1949, the natives were restless in the land of Carnival. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michael Gerlinger on 4 Jan. 2005
Format: Paperback
If you look for a comprehensive account of almost all the musicians involved in Bossa Nova including what they earned for what, if you want to know which of Miucha's recipes Joao was crazy about (couscous with fish) or who ironed Joao's pants minutes before he went onstage at the famous bossa nova concert in Carnegie Hall, N.Y. 1962 (Brazilian Vice Consul Dona Dora Vasconcellos - admittedly an absolutely hilarious story), if you can be amused by Brazilian musicians forever coming late to appointments, or drinking themselves into hospital frequently (Vinicius, Baden Powell, Maysa ...) - this is your book. If you care to know who dated who among all those wonderful Brazilian musicians of the 60s or who was the Girl from Ipanema (Heloisa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto, age 18 in 1962) - this book is a must for you.
If you share Ruy Castro's contempt for politically engaged music (however naïve) in times of military dictatorship or if you believe that Tropicalismo, which was started by Gilberto Gil, Tom Ze, Caetano Veloso among others after the air went out of Bossa Nova in 1967, was "a ye ye ye renovation movement" - you'll absolutely love it.
But if you care for the music - if you want to know how musicians worked and felt, what ideals they looked up to and which traditions they respected - forget it and go look for something else.
Faute de mieux (because it deals mainly with the post Bossa Nova period) you might look into Caetano Veloso's own book "Tropical Truth": much more intelligent, much more respectful (especially towards people like Roberto Carlos or Nara Leao), insightful and although pretty intellectual much more heartfelt and humane than Ruy Castro's comprehensive compendium of Bossa Nova gossip.
(Out of disappointment I might make it look worse than it really is: there are amusing and interesting parts. At least you get to learn some about all those fantastic poets and singers and composers, especially Joao Gilberto. But on the whole a huge let down.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By B. Alcat on 31 July 2004
Format: Paperback
The title of this book makes reference to "Chega de saudade", a revolutionary song written by Tom Jobim, that was recorded for the first time in 1958. Ruy Castro shows us how the Bossa Nova started ("A história" = the story), but he also introduces the reader to the lives of the musicians who "made" the Bossa Nova ("as histórias" = the stories), for example Joao Gilberto,Tom Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes and Sylvia Telles, among others...

When we read "Chega de saudade" we are told Bossa Nova's story as if it were a tale: we get to know important facts about that movement, but also entertaining gossip regarding the people who were part of it. Reading this book is quite easy, and you will find that the author makes you smile from time to time with his ironic commentaries. Due to the fact that this is the original version in Portuguese, you won't miss the subtle nuances of meaning that sometimes are lost in the English translation, and you will be able to take delight in several wordplays that Ruy Castro makes throughout the book.

On the whole, I highly recommend "Chega de saudade". I give it 5 stars, because I think it is a perfect example of an entertaining but useful book regarding the history of an important movement in Brazilian music. I particularly love this book because I think that it adds a "human dimension" to Bossa Nova. I like to enjoy the songs, but also to know about the lives of those who wrote them, and what inspired the creators regarding each particular song...

Of course, this book by itself is not enough: you will need to learn more, and listen to the songs "Chega de saudade" talks about. But where can you find a book that exhausts a subject?. I haven't been that lucky yet, so I will gladly settle for one that allows me to start studying the subject, and that makes me more interested in it :)

Belen Alcat
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 17 reviews
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
sloppy translation 5 Sept. 2001
By J. Freeman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book, but the translation is unfortunately sloppy. Just a few examples I've come across so far:
p. viii of Acknowledgments: "... giving detailed descriptions of homes, bars and boats." The original word was "boate", which means nightclub, not boat!
p. 52 "In his daily update on the Zona Sul nightlife (or that of Copacabana, given that Ipanema had been practically annexed by it, and the nightlife in Leblon was so dead that there were doubts of its existence), Maria described..."
The original reads: "No seu registro cotidiano da vida noturna da Zona Sul (ou de Copacabana, já que Ipanema era considerado um apêndice e havia dúvidas sobre a existência do Leblon), Maria criava..."
The translator missed the point. Ipanema was considered an extension of Copacabana, because it was less important at the time. And she missed the humor of the statement about Leblon. People doubted the existence of Leblon itself, not just Leblon's nightlife.
Yes, I'm being picky, but the translator regularly gets little things wrong or misses the point. I read the translation and come to things that don't seem right. When I check the original, sure enough, they aren't. It's still a good read and the overall story still comes through.
The new introduction by Julian Dibbell to the English version is very nice.
The quality of the printing and the pictures aren't as nice in the English edition. The Brazilian edition, by Companhia Das Letras, has more and better pictures, and glossy full-color fold out maps.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Important facts and entertaining gossip :) 1 Jun. 2004
By B. Alcat - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The title of this book makes reference to "Chega de saudade", a revolutionary song written by Tom Jobim, that was recorded for the first time in 1958. Ruy Castro shows us how the Bossa Nova started ("A história" = the story), but he also introduces the reader to the lives of the musicians who "made" the Bossa Nova ("as histórias" = the stories), for example Joao Gilberto,Tom Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes and Sylvia Telles, among others...

When we read "Chega de saudade" we are told Bossa Nova's story as if it were a tale: we get to know important facts about that movement, but also entertaining gossip regarding the people who were part of it. Reading this book is quite easy, and you will find that the author makes you smile from time to time with his ironic commentaries. Due to the fact that this is the original version in Portuguese, you won't miss the subtle nuances of meaning that sometimes are lost in the English translation, and you will be able to take delight in several wordplays that Ruy Castro makes throughout the book.

On the whole, I highly recommend "Chega de saudade". I give it 5 stars, because I think it is a perfect example of an entertaining but useful book regarding the history of an important movement in Brazilian music. I particularly love this book because I think that it adds a "human dimension" to Bossa Nova. I like to enjoy the songs, but also to know about the lives of those who wrote them, and what inspired the creators regarding each particular song...

Of course, this book by itself is not enough: you will need to learn more, and listen to the songs "Chega de saudade" talks about. But where can you find a book that exhausts a subject?. I haven't been that lucky yet, so I will gladly settle for one that allows me to start studying the subject, and that makes me more interested in it :)

Belen Alcat
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Absolutely the best. 10 Aug. 2001
By DJ Joe Sixpack - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A thoroughly charming and authoritative history of Brazilian popular music, this book documents the rise of bossa nova, tracking the careers of Joao Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Vinicius De Moraes, Nara Leao and others in a gossipy, informal narrative that's a delight to read. Castro brings the mythic figures of Brazil back down to human scale, poking fun at their humanity, their foibles and years of obscurity, while also pointing out their sheer brilliance, and the adoration that Brazilians feel for their music. The chatty, informal tone adds a nice hometown touch that lets you feel as if you were standing on the corner yourself when that gal from Ipanema walked by, cracking jokes with the rest of the fellas. This book is also notable for its emphasis on the now-neglected figures of the great "radio singers," who ruled the public heart in the decades before bossa hit - legendary figures such as Lucio Alves, Aloysio Oliveira, Orlando Silva, Dick Farney and Sylvia Telles whose stars have faded, but are compelling nonetheless. Castro has complete command of his subject, but doesn't feel stuffy or preachy at all. An outstanding book, and required reading for anyone looking for a deeper knowledge of Brazilian culture.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Music, Passion, Tragedy, Comedy--And It's Non-Fiction!! 28 Nov. 2000
By Greg C. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
If the English translation of this masterpiece is anywhere near as good as the original, then it's a must-read however much or little you know about Brazilian music. It's got tons of great stories and anecdotes, some comical, some tragic, about the posse of colorful characters (and their colorful country) who created some of the world's most beautiful music. The US reader/listener can now become properly acquainted with people like Roberto Menescal, João Gilberto, Aloysio De Oliveira, Maysa, Sylvia Telles, Ronaldo Boscoli and countless others who made this all happen. This actually reads like a screenplay! It really makes the music come alive. The narrative spans the mid-40s to the late 60s, and will have you begging for more at book's end. Do yourself a major favor and get this book. It's a Godsend to lovers of music, and not just Brazilian music!
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Shallow 4 Jan. 2005
By Michael Gerlinger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you look for a comprehensive account of almost all the musicians involved in Bossa Nova including what they earned for what, if you want to know which of Miucha's recipes Joao was crazy about (couscous with fish) or who ironed Joao's pants minutes before he went onstage at the famous bossa nova concert in Carnegie Hall, N.Y. 1962 (Brazilian Vice Consul Dona Dora Vasconcellos - admittedly an absolutely hilarious story), if you can be amused by Brazilian musicians forever coming late to appointments, or drinking themselves into hospital frequently (Vinicius, Baden Powell, Maysa ...) - this is your book. If you care to know who dated who among all those wonderful Brazilian musicians of the 60s or who was the Girl from Ipanema (Heloisa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto, age 18 in 1962, for further details see Brazilian Playboy May 1987 edition - when she was 43 though) - this book is a must for you.
If you share Ruy Castro's contempt for politically engaged music (however naïve) in times of military dictatorship or if you believe that Tropicalismo, which was started by Gilberto Gil, Tom Ze, Caetano Veloso among others after the air went out of Bossa Nova in 1967, was "a ye ye ye renovation movement" - you'll absolutely love it.
But if you care for the music - if you want to know how musicians worked and felt, what ideals they looked up to and which traditions they respected - forget it and go look for something else.
Faute de mieux (because it deals mainly with the post Bossa Nova period) you might look into Caetano Veloso's own book "Tropical Truth": much more intelligent, much more respectful (especially towards people like Roberto Carlos or Nara Leao), insightful and although pretty intellectual much more heartfelt and humane than Ruy Castro's comprehensive compendium of Bossa Nova gossip.
(Out of disappointment I might make it look worse than it really is: there are amusing and interesting parts. At least you get to learn some about all those fantastic poets and singers and composers, especially Joao Gilberto. But on the whole a huge let down.)
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