The Complete Short Stories of Clarice Lipsector, published August, 2015, translated by Katrina Dodson, edited and introduced by Benjamin Moser
With the publication of this collection, it is as if a star has exploded in the short story world. Many will see her stories as among the greatest of their lifetime reading experiences. Some will not feel her power. Benjamin Moser says her work is "witchcraft, not literature".
I think soon her stories will be heavily analyzed by post-colonial scholars, feminist readers, South American studies, and those who follow the lead of Moser and see her as in the tradition of Jewish writers. Historians of race and social class in Brazil will find her works a gold mind. I also strongly urge the reading of Benjamin Moser's biography. Her works will be studied as if they are texts in an ancient religion, ones for a dark time like those we may now be entering. I know those who have not yet entered her world or even heard of her will find my words hyperbolic. On the other side, there will be found those who will say I am holding back, not articulating her full power.
My Prior Posts on Clarice Lispector
Have you ever, late at night and if you were very fortunate in Rio de Janeiro, went out to the bars and even the streets looking for an anonymous person to have sex with? Well if you have I think Lispector has depicted the experience, as seen through the eyes of a cultured refined, very well, in all its bad faith and darkness. If you have, as of course you have not, not ever done this then this story may let you see how it feels. At the very least we you can fantasize you are in a bar in Copacabana and a gourious Carioca seems to be looking at you with hungry eyes.
As the story begins the narrator has spotted the man she wants, drunk in a late night bar. Of course she has read great books, studied the thoughts of the Buddha and can trace her ancestors back many generations where the drunk can do none of these things. Or so she thinks. But wait, after she, I am assuming g the narrator is a woman, has paid for his drinks he seems not to want to have sex with her. How can he so dare?
She begins to walk the streets looking for anyone to have sex with, desperate for a release that this purely physical act can, she hopes bring her. We get the feeling this is something she has done before. She has to denigrate those she encounters to put herself above them, almost as if they are but animals in comparison to her. Maybe she does not realize they look at her in the same way.