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Kramp | María José Ferrada

Kramp | María José Ferrada

This book is currently at the top of my best of this year!

I read it one morning last week. I woke up at 5:30 am, indisposed and between the sleep that wouldn’t return and the silence of my house, I decided to open Kramp. I ordered it in July, but heard about it for the first time on June 3, at the Lisbon Book Fair, at the presentation of the label Questão Pentagonal. I ran a lot that day, I arrived late, but I knew it would be worth it. Antena 2 was there and you can listen to the presentation of Questão Pentagonal on the RTP website.

This label, from the Grupo Narrativa, was created by Afonso Cruz and brings us translations of unknown works, until now, in Portugal.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I really like Afonso’s writing and it’s not surprising that I was curious about what he would present to us with the Questão Pentagonal.

Kramp, by María José Ferrada and translated by Afonso Cruz, is a book that does not let us pause. Once you start reading, there’s no going back: it’s to be read straight away, even if you have to hide somewhere in your house so that no one bothers you.

D, M’s father, is a traveling salesman who believes that we can all achieve what we want. He sells Kramp nails, saws, hammers and peepholes and works with his daughter, M. They share visions, lessons and cigarettes. In chapter IV, M shows us her classification of things and, believe me, you won’t be able to stop reading.

M’s lucidity about life is incredible and the way in which this lucidity is achieved in María José Ferrada’s writing is wonderful. M has a mother and has D (who will be a father in the last pages of the book). I don’t want to spoil the reading, but these details in the writing of the book make it delicious and I will have to reread it because I feel compelled to do so by the Great Carpenter (creator of the World in M’s eyes). The way M explains the world and how it works based on Kramp products is genius.

All the characters subtly enter, with descriptions so well done that they make us want to find out more about S, F, E, C and all the others.

The life lessons that a single screw brings us, small details that we read and that turn out to be giants when we least expect it, and this crazy desire that I have to tell you every incredible sentence I read, that grabbed me, that taught me to look the other in several perspectives in this story. This book puts us in the role of mother, father, friend, child and adult. It gives us so much and so fast.

With the writing of María José Ferrada, I silently peeked through the peephole in my door and lived M’s story as if it were mine.

With this book, the author received the Art Critics Circle Award, the Best Literary Works Award from the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage and the Santiago Municipal Literature Award.

What a beautiful choice, Afonso, to start the Questão Pentagonal. Next on the list to order and read is Não deixes que uma boa notícia te estrague o dia (aforismos) by Ramón Eder. I’m sure it won’t let me down.

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Rui Zink | A Instalação do Medo

Rui Zink | A Instalação do Medo

I don’t always know where to start. Perhaps because of the delay, or because of the moment when I finally picked up the book and decided it was going to be read right away.

I’ve had A Instalação do Medo, by Rui Zink, since June 16, 2021. I decided to pick it up and read it “seriously” in the last week of July 2022. Sitting in the shadow, with a beer in my hand.

Rui manages to make any of us keep a smile on our face while realizing that we live, most of the time, subjugated to fear. In some moments of the book I felt really silly, but attention: silly in the good sense if such a thing exists.

My first folded page is page 40. And why? Because I start to review myself from that page. The horror of the first day of school. Fear, anxiety, restlessness. And on the day I write this, I still remember crying uncontrollably on my first day at school. This school, which is now across the street from where I live, seems much smaller than it was 30 years ago. Here is the nonsense I was just talking about.

“Children do not understand the cruelty of their parents (…) But there is violence, a chill, betrayal, trauma (…)”.

I was quickly gripped by the pages. There’s so much of Rui Zink inside this book. I was once his student and passages like “You know what a sonnet is, don’t you? (…) A sonnet is a poetic form of fourteen verses, created in the Renaissance (…)”, it’s like going back to his classes where you laugh and then you’re learning something else, just like who doesn’t even notice it .

The book has the graphic notes in the right places. Notes in the text that make us smile slyly and help us to read: “It’s strange, now that Sousa seems to speak in italics: — We’re probably going to have to leave the single currency”.

On page 114 I let out the real laugh. Comparing old people to pigeons and reducing old people to the position they occupy in today’s society. They only cause work, expense and “unlike pigeons, they are not even good for shitting a statue”. Old people and children are two difficult points in this country. Where do we put them when we are busy earning a pittance 40 hours a week? The State does not have enough homes, daycare centers, or support for our parents or our children. But that doesn’t matter now either.

Continuing in the book.

This reissue had some rewriting and “Eight billion humans on earth. Obviously, someone had to end up eating a pangolin” must be an addition to the 2012 edition (I haven’t read that edition). If there was a moment when the people received the installation of fear with the door wide open, it was with the pandemic. I know I received it and I still think about how the installation technicians were such good professionals.

In this 2021 edition, the real storm is really well represented and fear remains current — the Markets.

I really enjoyed this book by Rui Zink. I think it would make an excellent play, but he already knows that.

The reading pace is incredible, the dialogues are not at all monotonous and the humor is refined and borders on the sadistic. What more could you want for this beginning of September?

Take advantage of the fact that the author will be this Sunday, September 4th, at 5pm, at Porto Editora, at the Lisbon Book Fair, in an autograph session. Go without fear!