33 Readers
16 Sages

shell pebble

Uneasy hour

The Hour of the Star - Clarice Lispector

In telling the story of a 'meagre' character, an orphan from the poorest region of Brazil living in poverty in Rio, Lispector offers no philosophical certainty, proceeding from one diffuse reflection to another, usually conflicting one, while retaining a vice-like grip on the minimal narrative.

The dialogue is particularly masterful - somehow razor sharp despite the characters' limited capacities for insight. Macabea's exchanges with her boyfriend and with the doctor expose social ills both petty and profound, diagnosing between the lines where words fail horribly.

It's grim. But it has to be. I seem to struggle often with translations from Portuguese and this was no exception to that. Sometimes the images did not speak to me, coming from far outside my experience like 'the taste of a cigarette smoked the wrong way round'. Hard work, but well paid.