Hardly anything blue about the eyes

Robert Rauschenberg, Spot, 1963


Commentary on Henriette Effenberger's Newly Released Novel

A quick tour of the scenario of contemporary Brazilian literature will reveal a typical phenomenon of the XNUMXst century: the multiplicity of styles and forms, burying once and for all the previous century's concept of “currents” or “movements”. The same occurs in the plastic arts or in music, but it is always good to point out that symptoms already appeared in the middle of the previous century.

Fiction literature, in particular, is increasingly contaminated by a narrative urgency, the result of adaptation to new media. The short stories, the impressionist chronicles, the fast and almost always superficial writing are marks of an era in which the forms of communication seem to increasingly exchange elaborate depth for the logarithmic reach of a virtual audience.

Some works will remain, no doubt. At the very least, as a period portrait. Most will be forgotten, and it is quite possible that a good part of scribblers will not have the slightest interest in being read fifty years from now, as the writers of yesteryear aspired to. Some, in fact, don't even want their writings to be read in a fortnight's time, as they will already be old. “I write today to be read today, tomorrow I will talk about another subject”, seems to be one of the maxims adopted by the “post-everything” of www.

For all these reasons, it is always a good surprise when we find authors who manage to weave together more elaborate plots with agile and direct language, achieving good results. Henriette Effenberger is part of this select group. your novel Hardly anything blue about the eyes constitutes a fine example of writing that strips itself of all the mannerisms of “old” literature, such as the description of scenarios or psychologisms (although there is even a psychiatrist in the plot), and invests in dialogues and actions, reducing the description of situations and actions to a minimum. locations.

In the first chapter, an as yet unnamed character locks the house, throws away the key and leaves for Europe. The following chapters introduce a cast where all are protagonists at times and supporting actors in the narrative as a whole. The plot connects everyone, with unexpected nuances. The girl can be cruel, the infallible husband can be discarded, the useless can be a motivator, the strong woman can be an emotional fiasco. Human complexity is established in a few lines, and conflicts never emerge for free.

The chapters are masterful in which, only through dialogue, the relationship between a caring daughter and her father with Alzheimer's is established. At first they may seem excessive, even distressing, but they prove to be fundamental to the outcome of the plot. The author creates an atmosphere of progressive suspense, which will lead to a surprising ending.

Surprise ending? Isn't that a XNUMXth century thing? Henriette Effenberger's mastery lies precisely in filtering and incorporating, in a balanced way, the great assets of classic, modern and contemporary literature: a good story, an astute and non-linear development, and a concise and colloquial language, which incorporates the imperfections of speech. without prejudice to the content.

Award-winning storyteller, author of children's literature, the writer is generally presented as a "feminist", member of Coletivo Mulherio das Letras. Regardless of the symbolic meaning of the adjective, Henriette democratically lays bare men and women in her writing, pointing out their limitations and meanness, their hatreds and passions, but also revealing moments of courage and resistance. It's not easy, it's not shallow, and it's not little.

* Daniel Brazil is a writer, author of the novel suit of kings (Penalux), screenwriter and TV director, music and literary critic.



Henriette Effenberger. Hardly anything blue about the eyes. São Paulo, Alcaçuz/ Telucazu, 2021, 162 pages.

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