To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. It also analyses reviews to verify trustworthiness.
I've been on Amazon 21 years now and have written just a handful of reviews...which no doubt would reflect my aging process. I rarely feel compelled to write a review, but this collection of stories is...well I don't really have the words.
I've had it a year now and read them all in 4 weeks, whilst reading other things. I got to the stage I wanted to savour each story and for the collection not to end, so I slowed down the rate I was reading them. They are really nothing like anything I'd read before, and I've read very widely, especially short stories. They are unusual, although not as unusual as her novels. The language and imagery are incredible and not of a style that I'd found before in native English stories. How much of that is down to the translation, I don't know. There are elements that remind me of Elizabeth Bowen, and William Maxwell and a sense of patience at times that is like Marilynne Robinson. So perhaps if you like those writers, you might like this.
The stories are full of acute insights into human character and those moments when you go, "Oh, I feel that." I wish I was better at reviews, but I'm just an enthusiast - to the extent I now have a framed picture of her in my house.
I'd never heard of her until there was a feature on her in Paris Review in summer 2019 but she was and is a huge figure in Brazilian literature.
Apologies if you buy it and think, "Well this is a load of tosh." But on the other hand, if you love it too, they're amazing aren't they?
This substantively kaleidoscopic tour de force continuously hypnotises the reader with a blend of seeming automatic-writing (with deadpan repetitions of BRASILIA IS – followed by non-sequiturs that often later turn out to be sequiturs) and authorially autonomous autobiography of impressions of this then ‘new’ city from different timelines and places (including BRASILIA itself). A wonderful companion to the previous stories, combining themes from them with a sort of madness to which one grows accustomed as the image of the writer has of herself: one that I have grown to know throughout this whole book.
My detailed review of all these stories is posted elsewhere under my name and is far too big to post here, but above is part of its conclusion.
To me this is a book of two halves. The first half had some good stories but you can tell the young writer was still finding her way and some stories worked better than others and they seemed more conventional. Nothing terribly unique or experimental. However, in the second half of this book is where I felt things really got interesting and the stories had more weight and depth and the characters really came alive and you could feel how the writer turned into a master at her craft! You could also feel the maturity in the ladder half of the book as she dealt with important and serious topics such as old age, death, the loss of innocence, place, and the poor and homeless. Also I think in the ladder part of the book there are a lot more fragments and stories that can hardly be classified as stories, yet these were some of my favorites as it felt like the writer no longer feared her vulnerability as a writer and she stripped off her disguise that she formerly used to hide behind her characters and bared her soul for all to see this is me this is my life come have a look if you dare!
No one starts a story off better than Clarice Lispector, one of my favorite authors. From the first story: "The clock strikes nine. A loud, sonorous peal, followed by gentle chiming, an echo" to the last: "I doubt that death will come. Death? Could it be that the days, so long, will end?"
I'm not satisfied that those are the best examples. There are much better ones, but I couldn't be bothered to type them out because they just don't stop. The beginning just seamlessly flows into the rest of the story.
Many of the stories here are more traditional than her longer works, less experimental. But there are definite exceptions, like "Brasilia," where she effortlessly paints impressionist atmosphere rather than realist portraiture. She's so skilled at writing a mood, a fear, a hope, more than a straightforward narrative arc. Philosophical, charming, witty, stark, surprising, unusual. She deserves mention alongside Borges, Italo Calvino, Chekov.
I finished The Complete Stories a few days ago but couldn't bring myself to write a review because it feels like the book deserves much more than that. It really does. And the translator, Katrina Dodson, did an incredible job, although her translations made me wish I could read Portuguese. The edition is beautifully designed and crafted. The intro focused a bit more on her looks than I liked. Oh well.
PS- If you want to check her word out, start with her book Agua Viva. It's only 9 bucks.