Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Damn my Works

If I'm going to start anywhere it should be with Clarice Lispector. If it weren't for her books I would have gone mad long ago. Once I loaned out a copy of The Stream of Life. Weeks passed and the book went unreturned. The physical effects of this separation became so intolerable that I ordered another copy. Now I own two copies - one is extensively marked up and dog-eared and the other is pristine. Well, nearly.

Lately I've been leafing through Soulstorm, a collection of stories. I've just started writing a new book, and as Virginia Woolf says of this state, "Doubts creep in." Dear god yes. It's a comfort then to read Lispector's lines over and over: "Ah well. Who knows if this book will add anything to my works. Damn my works. I don't know why poeple attach so much importance to literature. And as for my name? To hell with it, I've got other things to think about." To hell with it, indeed.

I'm also quite fond of her Selected Cronicas. It's incredible to imagine that these diverse pieces were published in the Saturday edition of the Jornal do Brasil from August 1967 to December 1973. The preface describes the book as a "miscellaneous collection of aphorisms, diary entries, reminiscences, travel notes, interviews, serialized stories, essays, loosely defined as 'chronicles': a genre peculiar to Brazil which allows poets and writers to address a wider readership on a vast range of topics and themes." (Sounds a bit like a blog, or at least what this one aspires to be...). This project disquieted Lispector. She says, "I am apprehensive. Writing too much and too often can contaminate the word."