cover image Moldy Strawberries

Moldy Strawberries

Caio Fernando Abreu, trans. from the Portuguese by Bruna Dantas Lobato. Archipelago, $20 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-953861-20-7

The surprising and provocative works of Brazilian cult favorite Abreu (1948–1996) appear in English for the first time in this vivid translation from Lobato. Chronicling the counterculture scenes of the 1970s and ’80s as the AIDS crisis ravaged Brazil, the stories follow characters through nightclubs, office jobs, and lazy days of pillow talk. Some read as chronicles of the powers of physical intimacy, such as the short and exceptional “Fat Tuesday,” in which queer people seek, accept, and “glow” together on the dancefloor and beyond, until they must separate on account of societal taboos. Physicality also dominates “Sergeant Garcia,” in which a privileged and flat-footed soldier is exempted from service only to seek further liberation through sex with a stranger, leaving him “so full of a cursed joy.” Others are based largely or entirely on conversations. “Dialogue,” which reads like a riff on the “who’s on first” joke, details a speaker’s struggle to articulate their feelings to their interlocutor (“I said you’re my friend”; “What are you trying to say?” “I’m just saying you’re my friend”); “Music Box” explores the powerful images of dreams; and “The Survivors” examines the affections and longings that both bind and divide a queer woman and a queer man. Abreu’s prose shimmers and always surprises—each story is a small, bright gem. The fearless writing in this beautiful collection deserves a vast English-language readership. (May)