Email this review


Stranger even than The Long Haul, Franca's 1979 satire on Brazilian trucking, is this brief, elegaic evocation of a fictional town about to be submerged by rising waters released from a nearby dam's floodgates. Meet Josilton and Adriano, who, in memory of an old feud, continue to do business without looking at each other. And Tarcisio, who resists all entreaties to donate money to the church, pointing to the damage to the sacristy by a rainstorm as his divine justification. And Galeno, who ducks out of a knife-fight at a dance, stays in hiding for nine days before venturing out to save a little boy from drowning, then starts a new life himself. And Alceu, who kills his wife Mirtes and himself when he feels her love for him cooling. And Doris, convinced that one of her pet rabbits has committed suicide after his mate disappears. And Mayor Brigido Tonico, who sees his estranged wife pining away, misses her terribly, but cannot bring himself to forgive her having accepted a kiss from another man. Franca presents these vignettes and dozens of others, sketching out some hauntingly memorable characters along the way. But meeting these folks is all you can do, because their stories don't lead to anything or connect to each other or develop any dramatic momentum--even as the waters, released in the novel's opening sentence, roll peacefully over their abandoned homes. Neither a traditional novel nor a collection of stories, this prose-poem is more like a subterranean Spoon River Anthology.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Available/Ballantine