cover image Too Much of Life: The Complete Crônicas

Too Much of Life: The Complete Crônicas

Clarice Lispector, trans. from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa and Robin Patterson. New Directions, $29.95 trade paper (864p) ISBN 978-0-8112-2679-0

A decade of crônicas—short essays and anecdotes—published by Lispector (The Passion According to G.H.) primarily in the Jornal do Brasil from 1967 up to her death in 1977 come together in this rewarding work. Lispector asks in one entry “Is the crônica a story? Is it a conversation? Is it the summation of a state of mind?” and then, in pieces ranging from a few sentences to several pages, she shows the form as all those and more. As she ruminates on the world around her and within herself, Lispector blends casual meditations on the mundane with philosophical reveries on such topics as identity, death, and spirituality. A prime time TV host is absurd and “sadistic,” insomnia brings with it loneliness, and “Saturday in the wind is the rose of the week.” Lispector also contemplates the act of writing, a process she describes as “remembering the thing that never existed” and “rather like selling your soul.” Her prose shifts smoothly from poetic and serious—“The most difficult thing is doing nothing: facing the cosmos alone”—to playful and comedic—“Dear God, who could possibly love her? The answer: dear God.” Lispector’s fans will relish dipping into these thoughtful musings. (Sept.)