Princesses and Popstars
I have a LOT to say about what happened at the Bienal. Brazilians. Love. Books. And. Authors.
Really, though, words cannot describe. Except to say: WOW.
And thank you!
But first, it’s been pointed out that my post on Clarice Lispector has disappeared!
I can’t believe that, especially because the other night at the official Bienal party, Clarice’s son Paulo introduced himself (and his lovely wife) to me, because he heard I was a fan of his mother’s work!
It was so amazing! Really, I was speechless upon meeting a relative of someone so inspirational to me. I wanted to bow down like Mike Meyers on Saturday Night Live and do the “I’m not worthy” thing (but I restrained myself…barely. And only because my Spanx were so tight and denied all movement).
It was such an honor!
So I’ve made sure to add the post again below. I don’t know WHY it disappeared. Half the things I post/Twitter disappear on a regular basis though (sometimes this is a good thing. In this case, not) for mysterious reasons.
Really, I blame it on Rio. HA HA HA!
Secondly: My Internet connection here is very sketchy because I have a MacBook Air and I forgot my Ethernet adaptor so a lot of the time I can’t find a wifi connection.
But I’ve been TRYING to keep up with the news/your emails/etc!
And all I have to say is, oh my God, I go away for five minutes, and Patrick Swayze dies?
NOOOOO! Patrick, we love you. Nobody ever put you in the corner! Sob!
Then Kanye goes crazy (again)?
Kanye has apologized on his blog for what he did to Taylor Swift at the VMAs (I CAN’T BELIEVE I MISSED THIS. Also, Pink on the trapeze, and Lady GaGa).
But should we forgive him, Taylor fans? I will always have a soft spot for Kanye for letting Zach G make a video of one of his songs (Come on, you know you love chainsaws and clogging, especially when combined.)
So, anyway…back to Rio and the Bienal:
What can I say, people? First of all, check out where I ate breakfast every morning:
Yes, that is the pool where I was served slices of mangoes on a silver tray with my eggs and bacon. How will I ever go back to normal?
Answer: I will not. (Yes, that is Jesus floating over my pool. Actually, Christ the Redeemer from Corcovado, the mountain above!)
And one morning when we were eating our mangoes and drinking our coconut water (!!!) this live band began to sing John Mayer songs in soft Portuguese (John Mayer is SO MUCH BETTER in Portuguese! Really, he should consider taking it up) for a wedding upstairs on the terrace, and we all got a free concert. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?
It all happened at the Copacabana, the hottest spot north of Havana.
I didn’t spend all my time at the hotel, though. I went to Sugar Loaf! In a cable car! Thousands of feet in the air! And many other cultural spots, such as the National Library!
And I saw monkeys (and not at the zoo. Just sitting around, with their tiny monkey babies on their backs)! So sweet! And possibly infected with hideous viruses that will kill us all! Don’t touch them! No really!
I also hung out with Bernard Cornwell and Arthur Phillips (you might know them for being totally famous smart authors who wrote “The Sharpe Books” and “Prague”) for dinner and samba (FOR REAL) and stuff ALMOST EVERY NIGHT!!!!
And since we all we couldn’t fit into one car, our publisher hired this party bus to take us around. I KID YOU NOT.
So I was in this totally awesome Rio party bus with these amazing authors, just going around to places like the US consulate’s house for cocktails, and the Rio Scenariom, for samba:
It was insane. But I can’t tell you more because my motto is: What happens on the party bus stays on the party bus.
So, the Bienal. Amazing! So many sweet, affectionate readers, who waited so long (some all day) and came from so far away!
Brazilians love to read, and what’s more, they love to read anything, from huge super intellectual tomes to comic books. Plus, they love AUTHORS!
I did two packed presentations, two signings (one for five hours!)!
And still, sadly, there were people who came that I never got to meet!
I’m so sorry to anyone I missed and especially to anyone security and I mowed down on our way to the signing booth.
Authors are treated like rock stars in Brazil! It’s a little like being Xuxa…
…who, in case you don’t know, is a huge children’s television star here, and who was in the booth next to me for one signing. You should have heard the screaming.
(Sometimes in my head I still think I hear the screaming. Like Vietnam.)
Thank you to everyone who came! You were all such princesses!
Thanks too to everyone who gave me such lovely notes—I’m STILL reading them all—and gifts. Just a few of the wonderful things I received were this handmade “Game of Meg”…
…and pink Havaianas, teddy bears, bracelets, necklaces, and of course, this amazing cake, which two wonderful girls made themselves and carried ALL DAY, and which by the end of my signing I was still gazing at longingly (even though I was quite tired)…and so was everyone else who worked so hard to make my signings happen! My publisher here is INCREDIBLE (and so are all the people who organized and worked for the Bienal!)
It was so nice!
(This is how I look at the end of a 12 hour work day. Note the dazed expression, due to proximity of cake.)
A special thanks to Brazilian author Talitha, who showed me how it’s done!
Talitha showing me how to make “heart fingers” to the readers down below. All these photos courtesy of the Bienal’s Twitter page, including this one:
Seriously, can we just talk about my hair? I got it professionally curled and styled two hours before this photo was taken, but conference hall air HATES my hair. I’m mortified.
And no matter how much I primp, nothing works. This one ended up on the Bienal Twitter page, too!
But now I’m off to the second part of my tour, Curitiba, Sao Paolo, and Salvador! I had the best time at the Bienal, and in Rio—everyone was so kind, and so welcoming! I will seriously miss you all.
But Curitiba is going to be a blast, too! See you tonight from
Sign session at the Livrarias Curitiba
Rua Professor Pedro Viriato
Parigot de Souza n°. 600 – Mossunguê
Tchau! I love you!
Missing Post about Clarice Lispector
All About Brazil!
Thanks so much for the love, everyone who wrote me with tips on what to wear during my book tour in Brazil over the next two weeks! I think I’m going to be fine.
But if not I’ll know who to blame! (Ha, just kidding.)
Anyway, now that I’ve got the clothing down, I’ve realized I still need to learn Portuguese.
So I’m hoping people won’t hold that against me. I know “Obrigado” means thank you. I’m still working on the rest, with the help of this amazing(ly boring, but helpful) video:
So I’ve got the basics (kind of).
The two top questions Brazilian interviewers keep asking me (in English, thankfully) are:
#1, What books have you read by Brazilian writers, and
#2, Do you know any Brazilians?
Weirdly, I don’t usually remember the nationality of the authors I read. I can’t remember ever going around saying, “I just read this great book! It’s by a Canadian.”
But I do recall reading a book of short stories (Family Ties) by an amazing author called Clarice Lispector who was Brazilian. I wonder if she’s required reading in Brazilian schools?
Anyway, I liked her because:
a) Her writing struck me as humorous and sarcastic and yet moving.
b) Many of her short stories seem at first glance to be about…nothing. A woman putting her mother on the train after a visit. A girl who wants shoes without wooden heels so boys won’t notice her click-clacking as she walks to school. But the stories are actually about a lot. Much of it only women can understand, I think:
c) Clarice was Jewish and extremely glamorous. She once lit herself on fire after falling asleep while smoking.
OK, maybe this last part wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it adds to her mystique.
If you want to know more about Clarice, read one of her books (my friend Michael swears by “The Hour of the Star”), obviously, or the new biography about her called Why This World, by Benjamin Moser, which is in stores now. Here’s a review of it:
What the legendary soccer player Pelé is to sport in Brazil, the author "Clarice" is to that country's literary culture. Stunningly brilliant, beautiful and enigmatic, the daughter of Russian-Jewish émigrés achieved instant celebrity at the age of 23 with the publication of her debut novel Near to the Wild Heart. From that auspicious beginning in 1943, she emerged during the post-war decades as one of Latin America's greatest modernist writers and ambassadors of Brazilian culture and avant-garde thought. But, with only a few of her works available in translation, Clarice Lispector (1920-1977) has remained unknown to most English readers until now. Benjamin Moser's Why This World makes up for this long drought by offering a detailed and dramatic biography of Lispector's incredible life and times. Based on new interviews with family and friends, recovered manuscripts, and other fresh sources, Moser crafts a moving and tangible portrait of the famously inscrutable Clarice. --Lauren Nemroff
Edited to add later: I have been promised an English copy of “The Hour of the Star” is waiting for me in Sao Paolo! I hope this is true!
As to the second question, “Do you know anyone from Brazil?” I do, I know thousands of readers who’ve emailed me, maybe even tens of thousands!
But if you mean personally, I do know a young Brazilian woman who moved to the US knowing next-to-no English, but was nevertheless determined to make a life for herself, and after marrying a friend of mine opened her own restaurant in New York City which became a sort of neighborhood hangout for a lot of celebrities (including some who’ve been in the tabloids recently and whom I’ve mentioned on this blog)!
I think this kind of chutzpah is typically Brazilian. Nothing can stop a Brazilian!
Anyway, our friend’s restaurant is where He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog and I used to go almost every Tuesday night until closing. Afterwards, we’d all hit the town.
That’s how we started calling Tuesday nights Danger Night, because we’d usually be out until 4AM (this wasn’t good, since some us had to work the next day).
So, that’s the story of my favorite Brazilian author and my friend from Brazil.
I think Clarice Lispector would have appreciated Danger Night immensely.
See you in Rio!