Publisher: Scribe | Publication date: 1st August 2014
This is an impressively written if somewhat grim tale of a son’s bleak relationship with his father.
It’s a relatively short account told in two parts. The first part begins with our protagonist narrating his experiences by addressing the reader to offer philosophical explorations as to why he felt compelled to abruptly end his father’s life. As a result, frequent literary and religious references are woven into the text to support his reasoning.
The second part is actually an excerpt of a book he has written, which at intervals he appears to invite us, the readers of said book, to give him honest feedback during sporadic visits to his place of incarceration. Although the conversations are entirely led by our narrator, occasionally he responds directly to the reactions of ‘the reader’ based on the assumed dialogue that is taking place as his book is being discussed.
During these visits the subject of the day he killed his father inevitably crops up. Any justification he offers for his actions is fuelled by psychosis and the lack of empathy his parent expressed toward him. They exchanged few words, zero love, yet a never-ending stream of money flowed into our narrator’s account – and this money was about the only bond they shared.
His emotionally constipated father figure funded his lifestyle in Paris, and this is where he met his drop-dead gorgeous wife. His father said this was the only decent thing he ever did and rewarded him by promptly increasing his allowance.
I can’t say for sure if any discussions in part two were intended to be reality, or if it was merely a projection of the fractured mind of our narrator and I was listening to his one-way conversation. Either way, I felt deeply ‘involved’ in his world, wherever that may be.
And here endeth all I can offer, as this book goes way beyond my limited comprehension for all things deep and meaningful. While this book is intelligent, regrettably I am not. Although it tip-toed into the realm of ‘challenging’ reads for me it still provided a truly fascinating break from the norm, and I’m always grateful for the opportunity to be introduced to an author I’m not familiar with. It’s quite an unusual tale.
(The kind folks of Scribe Publications ran a giveaway for this book some while ago, so my thanks again to them for plucking my name from the hat to receive a copy.)
So begins the unforgettable debut of Mario Sabino: a work of suspense, tragedy, and profound reflections on the human soul that marks him as one of Brazil’s most exciting novelists. In charming and chilling prose, Sabino draws the reader directly into the mind of a man who has committed patricide. Readers will hang on every word of this bold and stark book, which calls on complex themes of religion, philosophy, and literature in seeking to understand the nature of evil. Part psychological thriller, part intellectual puzzle, this novel plays on some of humankind’s most profound archetypes and fables, all the while lulling the reader with the brilliance of its voice.
Translated by Alison Entrekin.
Mario Sabino was born in São Paulo in 1962. He is editor-in-chief of Veja, Brazil’s most influential weekly magazine. In 2005 he published O Antinarciso (The Anti-Narcissus), a collection of twelve tales on the theme of loneliness, and it won the Melhor Livro de Contos de 2005 prize (Fundacao Biblioteca Nacional). His new collection of stories The Mouth of Truth was published by Record Brazil in early 2009. His stories have appeared in English in The Drawbridge Magazine and Words Without Borders.