‘Success’ by Adriana Lisboa

Success by Adriana Lisboa, 2013

The magic trick:

Noting how childhood innocence is inevitably temporary

This is an excellent story and one that I enjoyed a lot.

It tells the day in the life of two tweens – living dull, lower-middle-class childhoods in Brazil. There isn’t a ton of hope to go around. Even the recent World Cup, as the story notes several times, ended in disappointment.

So when while kicking the soccer ball together they run across two older boys on the street, it’s easy for the reader to assume that ok, this is going to be the story when things in their world go from dull to dangerous.

But that isn’t quite what happens.

Things don’t go well, don’t get me wrong. But true disaster is averted.

At least for this particular Sunday afternoon.

With one brilliant sentence, the story opens up an entire imagined future:

“They went back to the chubby one’s house, still smarting from that romantic disappointment – the first of many.”

Genius. “The first of many.”

I love that. The world of cigarettes and strange boys and adult mistakes remains in the distance – even as we know it looms inevitably in the near future.

And that’s quite a trick on Lisboa’s part.

The selection:

That summer Sunday afternoon in Rio de Janeiro was hardly very Hollywoodesque either – at least for the two of them. At home everything was so boring, there was absolutely nothing good on telly except the same programmes they’d seen three hundred times with little variation. Being twelve was so stupid. A childish world behind them, toys recently tidied away in the drawer along with an easy way of relating to things and people that had disappeared in a flash. A glittering adolescent world ahead of them, almost within reach – but not quite. Not quite. The place they were in was called hell. Twelve-year-old hell.

Disobedient bodies, disobedient reality. And out there real people were having tons of fun with Hollywood cigarettes, with their shapely adult bodies that Hollywood Sportline clothes fitted like red, white and blue gloves.


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