Irreverent, sensual without being crass, author Joyce
Cavalcante has focused her writer’s eye on the resigned lives of women
bred for generations to pray, marry and die. She has woven these elements
into all her books, while living in Rio de Janeiro, where she learned about
life in the big city, as well as in New York City, Washington D.C., and
São Paulo, where she currently lives and works.
By Celina Leite
Situations in life, as seen through the eyes of a storyteller, can reveal
powerful truths that spark the reader’s curiosity and provide both entertainment
and education. Writer Joyce Cavalcante’s fiction combines an edge of humor
with perceptions on the reality of contemporary culture in Brazil.
In her lively and often hilarious literary style, Cavalcante deftly
portrays the lives of women raised to do little more than pray, marry and
die. There is an instinctive understanding of the surrealism and entrenched
social mores in the country of her birth, which Cavalcante brings to life
through the novel’s strongly drawn and recognizable main characters.
Joyce Cavalcante was born in Fortaleza, state of Ceará, in the
northeast of Brazil and currently resides in São Paulo. She has
published six books and has collaborated on anthologies of short stories.
Cavalcante’s works have been used in artistic presentations such as videos,
performances, and plays. Speaking on Brazilian literature, she has participated
in various conferences around the world, and her writing is part of university
curriculums in Brazil, France and the USA. She has lectured extensively
in many international universities and is currently writing a book titled
Brazilian History of Female Literature.
Her writing has been praised by the critics as a work that "…
innocently describes an erotic context. This innocence stems from a lack
of guilt or prejudice, and a complete acceptance of pleasure and of the
physical being. Joyce has worked as a stone sculptor, reducing the block
to its essential core, and like a painter, symbolizing and translating
the external reality into the text as if into a large canvas… There is
no doubt that Joyce’s latest book makes a significant contribution."
(Claudio Willer, poet, translator, essayist).
Later, her fourth book, Discurso de uma Mulher Absurda (Discourse
of an Absurd Woman), was applauded by the critics: "This work brings
together Joyce’s life and literature, two things she always makes a point
of merging. This book is beautifully embracing and translucent. Written
by a woman as a courageous incentive to those who become intimidated by
life and by the world, those who get lost in the corners and eventually
give up. This book distinguishes her as one of the great writers of this
maltreated country in terms of true literary creativity." (Álvaro
Alves de Faria, poet and journalist).
Her recent novel Inimigos Íntimos (Intimate Enemies),
won the APCA (Associação Paulista de Críticos de Arte
— São Paulo Association of Art Critics) award in 1993 for best fiction.
This novel combines all of her achievements and experiences. Cavalcante’s
humorous approach to this intricate plot, where four women circumstantially
share the same roof and lover, exposes the hidden pain in a twisted scenario
of provincial life. Inimigos Íntimos is the first novel of
a tetralogy describing the path of Brazilian society’s newfound upward
In May of 1997, her most recent romance, O Cão Chupando Manga
(The Devil’s Mango Parade), the second novel of the tetralogy, will be
published. This book tells the story of a northeast Brazilian from the
hinterlands, who comes to São Paulo, a city of 17 million inhabitants.
He makes a dishonest fortune, but loses the woman he loves and part of
his undeserved profits in the process. Joyce Cavalcante’s novels are currently
in translation, and will be available in the US market in the near future.
For further details on Cavalcante’s work you can visit
her homepage at http://www.nethomes.com/joycava
The author can be contacted at email@example.com
Para Amândio, esses salmos.
Indisciplinadamente meu olhar passeia e sempre passeia por onde não
devia, se por acaso existisse coisa que se devesse ou não. Meu olhar
instigado pela imaginação, se desprende do real e se transporta
desse mundo e dos outros que existirem, pois existem mundos muito mais
do que esses permitidos.
Posso ver o que quero quando crio. Aventura constante é o ato
de inventar. Concretizar o abstrato por meio de algum sentido, como por
exemplo, o sentido do olhar.
O mundo enxergado é intenso e forçado ao silêncio.
O não declarado domina. Apenas mirar o que o pensamento admitir,
e legítimo será tudo. Assemelhar-se aos deuses ou mesmo ser
um deles. Assombrar os mortais dispondo de seus corpos, alisando-lhes tudo
com os olhos, tomando posse de seus instintos como se fossem nossos. Contar
histórias enganosas, fatos acontecidos apenas no desejo da memória.
Explicar os sons a partir da oitava nota, as cores além das presentes
no espectro solar, as letras pelas que caíram fora do alfabeto.
Com indecência ou modéstia, olhar, não só com
os olhos, mas com todos os sentidos, tudo e muito mais do que o cristalino
Sonhos e propostas. Opção. Assisto ou não a esse
espetáculo de coxas unidas e pernas controladas? Apesar de teu pudor
teu gesto imita um falo. Olho e cobiço tudo que vejo para meu regalo.
Quero. Você receptáculo, eu projeção. Depois
poderemos inverter nossos conceitos, nossa posição.
Feito espelhos complementares serão duas superfícies lisas
e iguais a refletir jogos ancestrais como se fossem novidades.
Convencionemos que não quero ver teu rosto. Quero teu busto.
E quando desse modo te contemplo, acredito que o mundo ali está
em teus mamilos rosados. (Fitarei só um deles para deixar o outro
enciumado). A seguir recolherei tuas sensações em minhas
pupilas e as distribuirei como uma benção, visando um mundo
de sossego baseado na poesia carnal.
Meus olhos giram e gira teu corpo artesanado em curvas, definição
absoluta do belo. Tua cintura atrai possibilidades fantásticas.
Se mostrando assim você aquiesce a minha gula. Entende meu desejo
alterado. Permite. Se deixa contemplar como uma escultura pagã,
apontando-me o objetivo de minha insanidade.
Apenas mais alguns graus mais para esquerda está exposto teu
traseiro. É ele uma porção de teu corpo para ser admirada
de joelhos pela semelhança que trás com o altar das mais
impróprias catedrais. Não concordo que esse teu pedaço
seja só músculos e lipídios. É muito, bem muito
mais. Trata-se de um retalho místico.
Dirijo meus olhos agora para teus acidentes frontais. Umbigo, púbis,
buracos, depressões, caixas de ressonância dentro das quais
se deveria gritar orações: —Te penetrarei por algum orifício
imaginário, espécie de local por onde entra e sai o diabo.
E como de súbito e só com meu olhar conseguir teu repouso.
Ali teu corpo molhado, extenuado, ofegante, cansado. Teu coração
batendo. Enfim, uma mulher agradecida em minha frente, após o jogo
de gente com gente.
For Amândio, these psalms.
My undisciplined gaze wander, often wandering where it shouldn’t as
if things that should or should not be existed. My gaze, moved by imagination
detaches itself from reality and travels beyond this and other worlds that
may exist besides these allowed to us. I can see whatever I want when I
am creating. Incessant adventure is the act of invention. Materializing
the abstract through one of the senses, of sight, for instance. The perceived
world is intense and forced to silence. The undeclared is dominating. Simply
looking at what thought can witness will turn all genuine. Resembling the
Gods, or even being one of them. Daunting mortals, using their bodies,
caressing them all over with the eyes, taking over their instincts as if
our own. Telling deceitful stories, events which happened in the desire
of memory. Explaining the sounds beyond the eighth note, the colors beyond
the solar spectrum, the letters through those which faded out of the alphabet.
Gazing at everything, indecently or modestly, not only with one’s eyes
but with all the senses, well beyond what the crystalline lens is capable
Dreams and proposals. Option. Should or shouldn’t I watch this performance
of joined thighs and controlled legs? Despite your modesty your gesture
resembles a Phallus. Staring I desire it all for my own delight. I want.
You a receptacle I a projection. Later we may alter our concepts, our position.
There will be two equally smooth surfaces like complementary mirrors reflecting
ancestral games as if they were novelties.
Let’s establish I do not want to see your face. I want your breast.
And when in this way contemplating you I believe the world is there, contained
within your rosy nipples. ( I will gaze at only one of them to provoke
jealousy in the other ). Then I will gather your sensations in my pupils
and as a blessing I will share them, aiming a world of stillness founded
on carnal poetry.
My eyes go round and around goes your body crafted in curves, the absolute
definition of beauty. Your waist attracts fantastic possibilities. Showing
yourself like this you feed my lust. You understand my altered desire.
Consent it. Allowing to be contemplated as a pagan stone cut: woman, aim
of my insanity.
There, only a few degrees to the left, your behind is showing. It is
a part of your body to be admired on one’s knees, so similar it is to the
altar of the most improper cathedrals. I cannot agree that this part of
you is only muscles and lipids, it is more, much more than that. The matter
here being a mystical detail.
I now turn my eyes to your frontal shapes. Navel, pubis, holes, depressions,
boxes of resonance, inside which prayers should be shouted. To penetrate
you through an imaginary orifice, the kind of place through which the Devil
goes in and out.
All of a sudden, with my gaze only, I soothe you. There your body, wet,
exhausted, panting, tired. Your heart beating. In front of me a grateful
woman, after the game between human beings.
De Dentro para Fora (From Within Outward)
Cavalcante’s first novel. Story of a married couple in which the husband
is a paraplegic and the wife becomes involved in a platonic relationship
with another man. The reader may choose among four different endings.
Costela de Eva (Eve’s Rib)
About a woman who suffers because of her beauty. Congresswoman Heloneida
Studart commented: "This is an indictment of many aspects of Brazilian
society and confirms the presence of a skilled novelist among female Brazilian
writers who has taken on the task of revealing the silent anguish of women
in our society."
Livre e Objeto (Free & Object)
Published during the Brazilian military dictartoship when books were being
censored. The erotic work made it past the scrutiny of the censors.
Discurso da Mulher Absurda (Discourse of the Absurd Woman)
A collection of erotic short stories. Critics pointed that the book brought
together life and literature. "This as a courageous wake up call to
those who become intimidated by life and by the world," wrote poet,
critic and journalist Álvaro Alves de Faria.
Retalhos Místicos (Mystical Details)
Created in partnership with Elvio Becheroni, an Italian artist who made
the serigraphs. Bilingual edition (Portuguese and English) with only 180
copies published. The original plates have been destroyed.
Inimigas Íntimas (Intimate Enemies)
Chosen as the best literary fiction work in 1993 by the São Paulo
Association of Art Critics. Set in the Brazilian Northeast, it deals with
sex, violence, and political corruption. The story of a man who lives with
four women under the same roof.
O Cão Chupando Manga (The Devil’s Mango Parade)
To be released in May 1997.
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