Synopses & Reviews
Rosea spoke, her voice steady. I was in jail a long time, you know. Im paying for my sins. Now I live in a dingy apartment. I get to watch my neighbors kids play and have a normal life that Ill never have. I smell their barbecues. Im already in hell, believe me.” Joe turned to go back to the car. You dont know what hell is. You have no idea.” When José Francisco Verguerio Silva arrives at LAX, fleeing the brutal dictatorship in his native Brazil, he is determined to become Americanized at all costs. He lands a job driving a Hollywood tour bus and posing as Ricky Ricardo. He marries a blonde waitress and becomes the father of twins. Yet happiness remains elusive for Joe as he is haunted by flashbacks of prison torture. And soon a torrid affair with Rosea Socorro Katz, the crazed daughter of Hollywoods Brazilian star Carmen Socorro, proves to be even more dangerous than the life he has fled. Rosea spent her childhood watching her mother unravel as the celebrity system toyed with and eventually destroyed her career. Carmen had always claimed to be descended from Amazons, the woman warriors of legend, but she was tamed by Hollywood. Not Rosea. She has just finished serving jail time for setting fire to the home of her ex-husbandin an attempt to destroy his collection of Brazilian artifactsand sets out to salvage her life. Along the way, she manages to tear down the lives of everyone she meets. The Brazil of the imagination is shattered in this novel of two tortured souls wrestling with the myths of movies, politics, and the American Dream. Laced with fantastic tales of bird-boys and cannibal rituals, it spins a compelling story of desperation as it reminds us that American freedom and the myth of unbridled opportunity can also consume and destroy.
"De Azevedo's vibrant but self-conscious debut novel depicts Brazilians struggling to make a life in 1970s Los Angeles, a story shot through with saudade, Portuguese for intense longing or homesickness. Fleeing political oppression, Joe Silva arrives in L.A. in 1975 and finds work with Hollywood Celebrity Tours, posing as Cuban Ricky Ricardo while carting tourists around Beverly Hills. In counterpoint to Joe, Rosea is second-generation and has learned to loathe all things American. Just released from jail, where she did time for burning down her anthropologist ex-husband's house, Rosea is angry and unpredictable. She is also the daughter of actress Carmen Socorro, a character modeled on Carmen Miranda; much of Rosea's rage springs from the way in which the movie industry created and then devoured her mother. Joe marries blonde, blue-eyed waitress Sherri, but falls into a doomed affair with Rosea after she takes a job at the tour company. Though the plot scales melodramatic heights and de Azevedo indulges in predictable metaphors to describe familiar immigrant dilemmas ('Joe felt his Brazilianness drift away like a green coconut bobbing out to sea'), the author creates a world through the strange intersection of Hollywood fantasy and real-world cultural exchange." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A dark, fantastical and, indeed, brilliant cautionary tale for those who search out paradise without first confrontingand defeatingtheir inner demons.” El Paso Times "Kathleen de Azevedo's debut novel is both a realistic portrayal of the difficulties immigrants have in adapting to a new country and a Hollywood fantasy about the American dream." Women's Review of Books
About the Author
Kathleen de Azevedo was born in Rio de Janeiro but has lived much of her life in the United States. Her writing has appeared in such publications as the Los Angeles Times, Michigan Quarterly Review, Boston Review, Haydens Ferry Review, Greensboro Review, and Américas, and she has been a frequent contributor to Brazzil magazine. She currently lives in San Francisco and teaches at Skyline College.