If Lucifer comes up to me and says “what do you desire?”
“Me? Right now?”
“Yes…’ he is a bit irritated with my lack of immediate response and insists ‘what do you most desire?’
His eyes burrow deep in mine, with that intense vampiric hypnotic look.
‘Well… in fact,’
‘Tell me, tell me your needs…’ he looks sexy.
I’m decisive now. I know what I want. ‘Many, many, many, reviews.’
‘Reviews?’ he is thrown off his game, forgets about the intense look. ‘For your soul, what do you want for your soul?’
‘I told you. Reviews. Amazon Reviews. Great, independent, unhinged, unbiased, uninhibited, five star, reviews.’
‘That I can get, but reviews… seriously, no money can buy. And since I’m giving my soul for it, I want many, in all my books.’
Acordei pensando no Veríssimo, o filho, não o pai. Quer dizer, ele deve ser pai e até avô, mas digo, o Luis não o Érico, com mil perdões, mas os outros não me importam.
Estive no festival de escritores de Sydney no final de semana passado e eles fizeram um painel para você dizer qual o livro que tinha mudado sua vida. Eu fiquei pensando e pensando… mas são tantos livros na minha que não sei dizer, fiquei entre As Aventuras de Xisto, o meu primeiro amor, e o Senhor dos Anéis. Mas queria mesmo é ter uma resposta do tipo “a essência essencial do ser e as profundezas da alma”. A verdade é que não tenho. Hoje de manhã percebi que tem um conto do Veríssimo, o Luis Fernando, que me marcou mais que os outros. O conto em que ele tenta vender a alma ao diabo para poder abrir aquela capinha de plástico do CD. O que no momento já se tornou irrelevante, se o Diabo aceitou a barganha saiu ganhando. Se bem que essa habilidade ainda deve servir para abrir embalagem de chicletes, então não é totalmente inútil.
Hoje de manhã pensei no Veríssimo, e aí, no Diabo. O que eu queria mesmo, pela minha alma, é um monte de Avaliações cinco estrelas, nos meus livros na Amazon.
O diabo do Veríssimo (digo, o diabo criado pelo Veríssimo) iria ficar tão indignado quanto com ele, mas você pode ter tudo que o dinheiro pode comprar! Eu explicaria:
— Eu sei, mas o que o dinheiro não compra, são as avaliações, independentes, na Amazon.
A p@rr4 da Amazon deleta todas as avaliações dos meus parentes e conhecidos, e como o livro fica com poucas avaliações, pessoas que eu não conheço não são incentivadas a fazer avaliações… e vira uma bola de neve.
Acordei pensando em como resolver o problema e só achei uma solução:
Domingo, oito da matina, a Lara e eu estamos tomando café no nosso bairro. É uma portinha que serve cafés nas mesinhas que coloca na calçada.
A Lara não se chama Lara, mas como é o nome que lhe dei quando se transformou em minha personagem, vou adotar desde já. Há anos coleciono suas histórias e tenho trabalhado duro para escrever um livro com as aventuras dessa figura. Esse livro nasce direto em inglês na minha mente, por isso está dando tanto trabalho!
Essa tal Lara virou personagem porque as coisas mais inusitadas acontecem com ela, ou ao seu redor.
Por exemplo, a cena de um desses domingos de manhã. Estávamos indo trabalhar; ela trabalhar-trabalhar, por estar organizando um grande evento que está acontecendo essa semana. Eu porque indo acompanhá-la, posso fazer companhia e dedicar o dia para “os meus escritos” que são qualquer coisa desde promover meus livros, escrever-escrever, ou planejar os próximos passos que preciso tomar.
Estávamos ali, cafezinhos e torradas na mão, e a Lara olha para o lado, olha para mim, e me diz baixinho:
— Olha, o Tony Abbott está passando correndo!
E passa o Tony Abbott com um sorrisinho na cara, porque ele viu a Lara falando o nome dele. Ela percebe que ele percebeu e dá aquela disfarçada, olhando para o lado. Ele passa com a camisa suada junto com dois amigos, ainda trotando.
Só na Australia mesmo para passar o ex-primeiro ministro sem pompa nem cerimônia.
O que me veio na cabeça foi o conto “O Recital”, do Luís Fernando Veríssimo que depois de colocar um homem querendo tocar a tuba num quarteto de cordas, solta uma manada de zebus no palco.
Quando estou com a Lara, o cara da Tuba é o de menos, eu vivo esperando a manada!
Trying to explain what is going on in Brazil to my friends and colleagues here in Australia, has been a challenge and a bit of a long conversation. I am very far from an economic connoisseur, miles away from understanding politics, but I’m good at summarising situations, so here is how I see it…
- Let’s start with the military coup of 1964 which lasted until the 80’s leaving Brazil with an eroded educational system (teachers and students were subversives) and an external public debt that would become evident only years later, but was about four times higher than it is now, and it was about half of Brazilian’s GDP.
- Since then, Brazilian Politicians are trying to cope and recover from this hole.
- Add a lot of corruption in all parties and throughout time with no consequence. With the free press, after the end of the dictatorship, a lot came to light but very few people felt the whip of punishment.
- Then you have Collor, the president who resigned in 1992 not to be impeached, and was re-elected to the Senate in 2014. He is now part of the investigation for corruption, “Lava Jato” operation, that I will mention a bit more about. He was almost impeached because his main economical act was invading people’s savings accounts leaving everyone with the equivalent of AU$50 in the bank and taking whatever was extra to fix the economy. My grandfather, on my mother’s side, is counted as one of his victims, like him many didn’t recover of the emotional blow that measure landed them and died of health complications short after. Needless to say, he didn’t fix anything.
- After some years Lula arrives at the presidency, in 2003, a worker with no education who had been fighting the noble fight for the poor for three elections unsuccessfully. He was to stay until 2011 in two four-year mandates. During his time he put a series of measures in place that were apparently fantastic but completely unsustainable. He “gave money away” to the people. He created supporting systems, I think they are similar to the Dole, that were given to various people who, no doubt about it, needed it:
- Support for students
- Support for unemployed people
- Support for families with many children
- Support for families of incarcerated people
- Support for poor people to equip their housing commissioning houses
- Support of students to study overseas
All these sound great, and to the receivers, it was great. The problem is that these same receivers were not generating value in the society to to refill the public coffers.
For a while these measures turned the economy and there was a sense of false prosperity. Salaries were raised in general, because people would prefer not to work and receive the Gov Support if the salary didn’t match at least what they would get if they didn’t work.
Brazilians are great in breaking payments in 10 instalments and overcommitting their income. There is a cultural element where my people tend to think they have to appear richer than they are, which makes for a lot of over-spending.
I believe that meanwhile, Lula, who was supposed to be for the people, became corrupt, he probably became tempted by the power, the money and the abundance he had never experienced before. His children became multi-millionaires in the span of ten years and their elevation is parallel with lobbying and political movements and benefits given to large corporations.
- Dilma, the current president, is Lula’s protege, she managed her first mandate in the same spirit, in the wake of Lula’s policies. She was re-elected in 2014 but hasn’t been able to do much so far, because of all the corruption issues. I don’t see her as being as corrupt as Lula, I think she isn’t as smart, she seems to have a faint noble streak, but she is naive and frankly, I don’t find her smart at all.
- In August 2013, the law that allows for reduction of sentences to convicted criminals for dubbing their fellow lawbreakers, was reviewed and signed by Dilma. That was something very important for what would come next, if she knew what she was doing!
- Then came Operation Car Wash “Operação Lava Jato”, in March 2014, the investigation that caused all the mess started. Looking into the money laundering of one car wash, the first domino fell. With the law I just mentioned above, one person caught started telling on the others. About 160 people have been put in jail so far, almost 3 Billion Reais have been recovered while about 22 Billion have been requested to be returned. Collor and Lula have been caught in this operation’s net and are being investigated.
- Dilma, in an attempt to help Lula, offered him the Chief of Staff Ministry, to allow him to avoid preventive incarceration, and to allow him to be investigated by a higher level of justice, escaping the grasp of the Car Wash Operation; I believe that he would be able to manipulate the higher level judges and escape justice.
- Lula hasn’t been allowed to get into this ministry so far, the justice system is fighting hard to avoid it. There is talk he is trying to run off to Spain.
- This ministry and the release of some private conversations recorded between Lula and Dilma were the straw that broke the camel’s back, as I see it. They turned the public opinion, created the protests and made the impeachment process to progress.
- This week, one instance of the impeachment process was voted and approved. In the next few weeks, the Senate should vote, if they approve it, Dilma will be removed from office temporarily, for 180 days, as the investigation moves forward.
With all that we also have the crazy mozzies, mysterious viruses, the new flu felling people by the bunch, the ecological disaster, the super polluted Guanabara Bay, falling bike paths, the infra-structure in Rio with its delayed projects AND we are 105 days from the Olympics…
I have to say that I’m still happy, because for the first time a lot of people are feeling the consequences of being corrupt, are being punished. I feel there is a sense of pride in being honest being recovered and although the short term from now should be dire, the long term has to be better than it has been.
Sunday early morning, Lara and I are having a coffee in our shops. It is one of the little-door coffee shops, with tables on the walkway, squeezed against the walls to avoid blocking the pedestrian way.
Lara isn’t Lara’s real name, it is the name I gave her once she became my character. That is how I call her in my stories. For years I have been collecting Lara’s tales and working hard to get her stories shaped into a book. This novel is born in English in my head and that is why it is harder.
Lara became my focus because unusual things happen to her, or around her, all the time.
Today for example, we are going to work. She is going to work-work, because she is organising a huge event which is happening in two weeks. I am going with her because on top of keeping her company, I can dedicate my day to “my writings” which means anything from promoting my books, writing-writing, or plan my next steps.
There we are, coffee and toast in hand, and Lara looks to the side, looks back at me, and says quietly:
‘Look, it’s Tony Abbott, he is running!’
Then comes Tony, with a discreet smile pasted on his face because he saw Lara saying his name. She sees that he saw her, and she looks to the side pretending nothing happened. He runs by us, with a couple of friends, the three trotting by with their sweaty t-shirts.
Only in Australia, the former prime-minister runs around without security or any special attention.
There is a famous short-story by Luis Fernando Verissimo, one of the best Brazilian authors, who wrote this tale about a man who wants to play the Tuba within the concert of a string quartet. Verissimo explores the humour and absurd of the stress between the string quartet and the tuba player and ends his story releasing a herd of zebu on stage.
When I’m with Lara, the Tuba guy is the least of my worries, I’m often waiting for the herd!
I know, I should stop here and just leave it at that, but I’m so real, sometimes it hurts.
This Best Selling ranking happened inside the Brazilian Amazon, for Kindle e-books, inside the category Collections & Anthologies, inside Fantasy, inside Fantasy, Horror & Science Fiction. Bottom line, I might have had to sell a dozen books to get there.
It was on Friday 8th April, I felt like running amok, screaming in happiness like a child with sugar rush just for having reached a Number One position.
“Sideways Reality”, my little short story collection is also doing very well in its FREE BOOK promotion this weekend, being 7th in the Australian Amazon for this same category.