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Selected Crônicas by Clarice Lispector
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Selected Crônicas (1984)

by Clarice Lispector

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Took me a while to finish as I read the book basically as a daily devotion. Nothing earth-shattering here, and honestly I have to say I was a bit disappointed in it as a whole. I was prepared for some courageous activity on the page but really did not connect to much of anything. Nonetheless, it was nice to visit with Clarice Lispector for these last several months. She made a good friend though she always had the last word, that is, until my speaking out now. ( )
  MSarki | Aug 3, 2013 |
"Selected Crônicas" is a series of essays, observations, and stories that Lispector, described as "the premier Latin American prose writer of {the 20th} century", wrote for the newspaper Jornal do Brasil from 1967 to 1973. The stories vary widely in length, and the longer and more personal chronicles are far better than the one or two paragraph fragments. All are well written, but many of them didn't resonate with me, which made me wonder if something was lost in the translation from the Portuguese.

One of the better short chronicles is "Searching":

"A cat did so much wailing during the night that I have rarely felt such compassion for the living. It sounded like grief, and in human and animal terms that it what it was. But could it have been sorrow, or was it 'searching', that is to say 'searching for'? For everything alive is searching for something or someone."

This is a mildly interesting but not strongly recommended read. ( )
  kidzdoc | Jun 6, 2010 |
I hadn't heard of Clarice Lispector until a few weeks ago, when I read that the revered Brazilian writer was the subject of a new biography. Her books can be difficult to find in the US, and since "Selected Crônicas" was the only one in my library system, it became my introduction to Lispector's work. Although it contained insightful, philosophical writing, I think I might have preferred one of her novels.

In the preface, translator Giovanni Pontiero explains that the crônica is "a genre peculiar to Brazil which allows poets and writers to address a wider readership on a vast range of topics and themes." These writings are usually informal and brief. Lispector wrote her crônicas for a Brazilian newspaper between 1967 and 1973 and included ruminations on varied subjects such as her childhood, family, travels, and occupation as a writer. Lispector is provoked and inspired by the most mundane events--a stranger who smiles at her, getting her hair cut, having a conversation with a taxi driver, reminiscing about her children. Autobiographical and deeply introspective, Lispector's writings also frequently examine the themes of identity and mortality.

The crônicas can be interesting, but given their short nature, I often wondered what else Lispector had to say on her many subjects. The longest of these works is only a few pages in length, with the majority lasting less than a page. I was occasionally frustrated as it seemed that Lispector could have gone on much longer, exploring her vast and complicated themes. I look forward to reading one of her novels. ( )
  anotherjennifer | Sep 14, 2009 |
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"In 1967, Brazil's leading newspaper asked the avant-garde writer Lispector to write a weekly column on any topic she wished. For almost seven years, Lispector showed Brazilian readers just how vast and passionate her interests were. This beautifully translated collection of selected columns, or crônicas, is just as immediately stimulating today and ably reinforces her reputation as one of Brazil's greatest writers. Indeed, these columns should establish her as being among the era's most brilliant essayists. She is masterful, even reminiscent of Montaigne, in her ability to spin the mundane events of life into moments of clarity that reveal greater truths."—Publishers Weekly
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Over one hundred chronicles elevating the ordinary to the special. The subjects range from the act of killing a cockroach, to flamenco dancing as an expression of rivalry between the sexes. The chronicle, a literary genre peculiar to Brazil, allows poets and novelists to address newspaper readers on any topic or theme they like. By the author of Near to the Wild Heart.… (more)

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