Too Much of Life: The Complete Crônicas

New Directions. Sept. 2022. 864p. tr. from Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa & Robin Patterson. ISBN 9780811226790. pap. $29.95. LIT
A good place to begin a review of novelist Lispector’s crônicas is at the end. In “The Making Of,” the final entry of this appealing 750-page compilation of Lispector’s short essays, her son, Paulo Gurgel Valente, explains how he came to collect and republish his mother’s Jornal do Brasil columns (written between 1967 and 1977), along with her other newspaper submissions. The works of Lispector (1920–77), a Ukrainian-born Brazilian, are now collected in a devotional format for readers, as page after page of thoughts, worries, inspirations, and commentaries. Many of Lispector’s columns focus on print newspapers, typewriters, and writing, specifically her theory that a writer cannot give lessons in writing, even when repeatedly asked. Other topics include men, women, sons, maids, cooks, and taxi drivers. Lispector’s ruminations on weariness and rage in “Feast and Famine,” originally published in 1968, speak to contemporary readers with observations on loving another person, success as a mistake, and the Beatles.
VERDICT An excellent collection for readers who enjoy commentaries and observations from a wise, entertaining, realistic writer. Good choice for readers who enjoy essays by Anne Lamott and Ann Patchett.
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