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...in the place where Zeus chained Prometheus, today there is a huge deposit of precious metals.,
This review is from: Granta 121: Best of Young Brazilian Novelists (Paperback)There were two stories/excerpts that I particularly enjoyed - Lettuce Nights by Vanessa Barbara and The Count by Leandro Sarmatz. I wanted to read more of Lettuce Nights which describes the ménage of Ada and Otto in old age: "... and everything ended in a theatrical fight in which she screamed `Drop the knife!' while he squirted lavender water at her. A couple of lunatics, Otto concluded, thinking back on ping-pong afternoons with Ada - the dented balls, extreme paddle manoeuvres, Otto shouting that it didn't count because the ball had hit her finger..."
The Count, I believe, is the most adventurous being the story of a ham actor who played Dracula in a series of road-shows during and after WWII. Set in Germany, it concerns Flescher, whose main concern is to get back to his home city of Cernowitz, the city in Bucovina (The Ukraine) where he was born. In the chaos that was Europe after the war he played different roles, masquerading as a German in Germany and a Pole in Poland.
"In the distance he could now see the chimneys, the plumes of smoke reaching into the sky. He was anxious to reach the outskirts of the city. Who will have survived of his relatives and acquaintances to hear him intone a Kaddish in homage to those who departed?
That night in Cernowitz they were massacring anyone who spoke the German language."
One of the excerpts here is oddly calm, almost cold - Michel Laub sets out a numbered series of fragments from his life, mostly concerning the death of his dog, Champion.
Miguel Del Castillo's short story Violeta is set during the time of the military dictatorship in Uruguay. "Violeta was taken prisoner more than once because of her son's subversive activities, her head inside water barrels..." An elaborate code system is worked out so that those in prison can receive news of their relatives. The story also tells of Miguel Angel and his life as a revolutionary in Chile: "Soon he was on one of the death flights: they were all political prisoners on that plane, the launch chute opening, then all of them gyrating through the air, what went through his head at that moment..."
Provoking, discursive, sometimes looking back on South American history, but also sometimes intensely personal in tone and intimate in revelation, this is an eclectic collection of young Brazilian writers.