In the serene of the world

Glauco Rodrigues, Untitled [Diving in the city of Rio de Janeiro], serigraphy, 1987.


Commentary on the novel by Julio Ambrozio

A 60-year-old old man, obsessed with cinema, Don Juanesque, marked by a profound loneliness that spreads through the streets, bars and early mornings of an inland city. Is that romance? In the agile hands of filmmaker and geographer Júlio Ambrozio, yes. And the good ones. proof is in In the serene of the world, her debut novel.

In her novel, life is taken in pieces, in disconcerting images. Almost nothing is clear. The outline of the characters, their feelings, dreams and actions are enveloped by a dense fog that hinders the reader's visibility. The constant rain frames the anguish of João, Beth, Leda, Acacio, etc. The night (the title of the novel indicates) is the most faithful mother in this place of helplessness.

The space of the novel is restricted to streets that lead to the same bars, to the house of João José (the old man) and to the cinematheque. Time contorts itself between eight days, going from one Friday to the other, almost cyclically. Rarely does a pun, a successful night of love, a pleasant dream impose a little light and lightness on this scenario. Black (Food and drink, art and women, the best things in life for João, appear more as a desire than, properly speaking, fulfillment).

With some easily corrected structural flaws in future works (we await such works), such as the irregularity in the construction of the chapters, sometimes with an overload of details, but with evident narrative fluency in most of the novel, Júlio Ambrozio builds a book in the first person, assuming the “macunaímico-depressive” personality of a passionate old-boy-libertarian. And crazy. “The errancy of life is painful. And fascinating,” says the old man.

With all the senses of passion and an attentive eye, Ambrozio assembles a vigorous panel of the difficulties of every creator, of every intelligent and sensitive person, in Brazil today and, by extension, in the Third World. Those who rise up against everyday sameness, but see the platinum stupidity consolidate, have, in In the serene of the world, new trampoline.

Among quotations from Bressane, Fellini, Glauber, Wim Wenders, Macalé, Itamar Assumpção, Gil – among others –, Júlio Ambrozio projects his novel as a film in words. Bleak like Paris, Texas. Enigmatic as BlowUp. Gingado as Benedito João dos Santos Silva Beleleu.

A book of an old, childless bachelor giving “a whole banana to death”. A Machadian Brás Cubas from the 1980s. More bitter. No less current.

*Amador Ribeiro Neto is a teacher, literary critic and poet.

Originally posted on extinct Jornal da Tarde, Saturday Notebook, on the 24th of September 1988.


Julius Ambrozio. In the serene of the world. Petrópolis, Publisher Pirilampo, 1988.


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