*By Rafael Mastrocinque
Twelve years after his last fictional book, Cristhiano Aguiar, 37, returns the creative flow to his narratives again. The times of academic experience, curatorship of literary magazines and other cultural actions, led to the maturation of the writer from Campinas until his most ingenious work, On the Other Shore, The Leviathan. Natanael, Faustine and Estevão represent the melancholy of the capital of São Paulo, which forces them to daydream, until they are shocked by the urban brutality that plagues their lives. Cristhiano brings in a refined flow, intertwined tales that interpret the evil of the modern tropics; the melancholy.
On the Other Shore, The Leviathan is divided into seven short stories, most of them composed by the same characters, with simultaneous stories walking side by side in the catharsis of the protagonist of each chapter. Cristhiano Aguiar spent six years looking for the ideal tone to translate into his narrative, the existential malaise of each individual in the midst of a scenario of police hostility, which continues through the memories of each character. The stories, especially Teresa, work the identities of each one from their family scars, with magical elements that bring sublime beauties to the narrative. An artifice that only the great storytellers possess.
“Locked in her room, she threw all her clothes on the floor and watched her own body with disgust. She considered herself hideously white. Lying in bed, she kept still and watched the night walk across her spotless body.”
Cristhiano highlights his references in the poetry of Murilo Mendes, the short stories by Alice Munro, Hilda Hilst and Borges as the roots for the emergence of On the Other Shore, The Leviathan.
Graduated in letters from the Federal University of Pernambuco, Cristhiano shares the challenge of reconciling his academic life with his literary production, now a professor at Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie. After the release of his first book of short stories next to the wall, of which he is not so proud, Cristhiano faithfully participated in literary projects in Pernambuco. He was one of the editors of Revista VacaTussa, participated in the Granta Anthology: The best young Brazilian writers in 2012, the year he began his “stumbling blocks” in the author's words, on the way to producing the book and other parallel works, as he balanced his tumultuous academic life.
“Rising, came the blow to the face, the truncheon in the kidneys. In cartoons, when we fall, birds appear or stars orbit around our face, right? There, there was only time for the floor” from the chapter Missing, Cristhiano narrates the repression of homeless Caetano, lost in the middle of a demonstration.
The characters Faustine and Caetano are antagonistic figures. Haunted by the violence of the military police in different social positions. On the Other Shore, The Leviathan presents a dialogue about the fissures of authoritarianism from Faustine, granddaughter of a military man involved in the 64 coup. From childhood memories, on her grandfather's farm, Faustine brings in excerpts the deepest roots for her aversion to authoritarianism.
Privileged and protected by a man of trust, the character is torn between tenderness and horror at the last moments she spent with her grandfather. “The point of this story, 'The newborns', and of Faustine's trajectory in particular, is the fact that our country has in its institutions the mark of authoritarianism as an articulating element. Unfortunately, our legal, police and political apparatus does not escape this authoritarianism.”, explains Cristhiano.
Cristhiano Aguiar brings in his new work the impact of renowned short story writers. Its characters are faced with the absurd during the banal daily life of the city, leaving their memories and weaknesses translucent from encounters. An eviction in the interior of Paraíba, the custody of a Bolivian by the police until the embarrassment of Lina and Estevão trapped for hours in the elevator in São Paulo. Regarding the place of Brazilian short story writers, Cristhiano is inspired by the classics and understands the task to be fulfilled by current writers. “Each time, each culture, demands from its writers the performance of different roles. In the middle of 2018, we are back in the eye of the hurricane of an acute political crisis whose consequences are still unpredictable. So, I feel a demand for narratives and public positions, on the part of contemporary authorship, that can handle all this turmoil.”
After its big launch at Banca Tatuí, by the independent label Lote 42, Cristhiano keeps some new titles that he was working in parallel to the On the Other Shore, The Leviathan. He will be present on April 13 at SP-Arte for his next release.
Watch the video in which Cristhiano narrates an excerpt from the book, provided exclusively by Lote 42: