Review of “Estar vivo aleija” (Ricardo Araujo Pereira)

Another book of Portuguese literature, again Ricardo Araujo Pereira. I hope you do not believe that all the books I have on Portuguese literature are only by Ricardo Araujo Pereira, because the truth is quite different. I have dozens of classics of Portuguese literature waiting for me: Fernando Pessoa, António Lobo Antunes, José Saramago … even Luis de Camoes! But there is something that Ricardo Araujo Pereira has that attracts me, that makes me want to read his books first, over the great classics. And his philosophy is indisputable: being alive hurts … (which is what “estar vivo aleija” means, in case you were wondering).  

In this case, the book “Estar vivo aleija” is a compilation of articles published in the Brazilian newspaper “Folha de Sao Paulo”. All the texts of the book can be found on the internet, you can find the link to the “Folha de Sao Paulo” for you to visit here:

I have already said this in another post by the same author, but if you do not know Ricardo Araujo Pereira, you can find his biography in Wikipedia in English, although if you speak or understand Portuguese, my recommendation is that you visit the Wikipedia page in Portuguese. The Portuguese version has many more details:

Ricardo Araujo Pereira normally publishes at least three books a year, which are his compilations from his “mixórdias” on “Radio Comercial” (a Portuguese Radio), and another two with compilations of his columns in the Visao magazine from Portugal, and Folha de Sao Paulo, a newspaper from Brazil. Above you will find the link to find his articles published in Folha de Sao Paulo, and here I also leave the link of the Visao magazine. (both in Portuguese, sorry for that).

It is very interesting, for those who know the works of Ricardo Araujo Pereira, to observe how he had to modify his way of writing to make it interesting or attractive to a foreign audience, in this case, the Brazilian one.

Estar vivo aleija” is a series of short stories, all more or less the same size and number of words, since it belongs to the same section of the newspaper in which they are published. Ricardo Araujo Pereira’s humor is very particular, full of ironies and observations about reality. If I make a general comment about the book, I think it is of great literary quality, but to make a correct analysis, one would have to analyse the texts individually. Among so many different stories, and the difficulty of having to write so often in a public medium like this Brazilian newspaper, there are times when the quality suffers, but from time to time, the reader comes across texts that are incredible, and the reader forgives Ricardo for any lack of quality in other of his stories.

Final comment: Of all the books I have read by Ricardo Araujo Pereira, I have to say, unfortunately, that this has not been one of my favorites. Even though the Portuguese and Brazilian cultures are so similar, I do not think that people in Brazil will understand if Ricardo makes a joke about the accent of a person from North-Portugal. And that is where Ricardo’s humour greatness lies, in regionalisms. I think his observational humour is very good, I would say excellent, and that, in many cases, the subjects he deals with are universal, but “Estar vivo Aleija” is made up entirely of texts of this style. Wanting to cover so much, he ends up all over the place. The book feels a little diluted to be able to conform the Brazilian public. He is still Ricardo Araujo Pereira, don’t take me wrong, and his texts are still incredible despite this. Only that, from his vast work, there are better books.

Book quote (in the original language, Portuguese):Mas foi a dureza dela que me ensinou uma coisa preciosa que, provavelmente, horroriza todos os profissionais da saúde mental: desvalorizar os meus sentimentos. Primeiro, por serem sentimentos; segundo, por serem meus. Primeiro, porque a maior parte dos sentimentos goza de um prestígio que não merece; segundo, porque a minha importância é bastante relativa.

Keep on Reading ,

GG Klimt

Questions to answer in the comments:
Have you read any of Ricardo Araujo Pereira’s books? And in particular, have you read «Estar vivo Aleija»? Did you like it? Do you agree with my final comments on the book? Have you read any similar book of the same genre that you would like to recommend? Or from any other Portuguese author? Please answer these questions in the comments section.

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