This last event at Flipside, was introduced by Liz Calder, as a celebration of some of Brazil’s writers. Everyone attending the workshop was given the book “Other Carnivals – New stories from Brazil”. This is a book of 12 short stories and four of the authors, were not only present, but they read parts of their stories. The artwork in the book is the work of Jeff Fisher . He also created the colourful and distinctive artwork for the Flipside stage. The Suffolk Chair Collection should perhaps also get a mention as the classic wooden chairs were a feature of the stage.
First, Ariana Lisboa read from her short story “That year in Rishikesh”. It explores the nature of imagination and the making up of stories, such as a memory of meeting John Lennon – stories acting as an anesthetic to block out reality. Next, Bernardo Carvalho, read from “The language of the future” his short story that explores the language of prejudice. Next, Ferréz shared the background to his story called “Neighbours”. It is an in your face story of living with watching neighbours. It was read by Ángel Gurría-Quintana, who chaired this session and also edited the book.
Milton Hatoum was the last of the four writers to read his short story “A burial and Other Carnivals”. It’s a story which recalls Carnival in Manaus, as the storyteller attends the burial of Dona Faride. The language and description is quite beautiful. I just have to share a couple of sentences. “There were also mermaids, hoarse from all the singing, semi nude and tousled-haired odalisques, dethroned princesses, carnival celebrants dressed in rags, paupers who were given a bowl with banana porridge or jaraqui fish”. ” The drunkest revellers dived into the river to soothe their hangovers, others argued with vultures on the beach or tried to find the girlfriends they had lost at some point of the merrymaking, when no one belonged to anyone and carnival was a hallucinatory miracle”. The story ends with a memorable proverb. “A mother is worth a world” and “Soon it will be Carnival……..”
The 12 stories in the book present snapshots of Brazilian life, past and present. It is imaginative, vibrant, a mix of the funny and the tragic. The book reveals, subverts and delights.