cover image The Stream of Life

The Stream of Life

Clarice Lispector. University of Minnesota Press, $18.5 (79pp) ISBN 978-0-8166-1782-1

This rarefied novel adopts the form of the interior monologue characteristic of Lispector's (1925-1977) oeuvre. A woman sits by the open window of her Brazilian beachfront studio, writing a long letter to someone no more specific than ``you.'' She parries with language (which is ``only words which live off sound'') and is wholly consumed with problems of epistemology: ``I want to die with life.'' A painter, she struggles as well to recreate the world around her: ``On certain nights, instead of black, the sky seems to be an intense indigo blue, a color I've painted on glass.'' When she listens to music, she says, ``I rest my hand lightly on the turntable and my hand vibrates, spreading waves through my whole body.'' While the narrator's self-consciousness (``And if I say `I,' it's because I don't dare say `you,' or `we,' or `a person.' I'm limited to the humble act of self-personalization through reducing myself, but I am the `you-are.' '') and diction (``the ultimate substratum in the domain of reality'') may strike some readers as academic, others will appreciate the challenges of Lispector's philosophical investigations. (June)