BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Glory and Its Litany of Horrors by Fernanda Torres, translated by Eric M.B. Becker [in Shelf Awareness]

Once upon a time, Mario Cardoso was “a god beneath the spotlight, a counterculture sex symbol, archetype of the ideal man, Dionysus reborn.” With no lack of youthful passion, he quits his architecture studies to join the chorus of a raucous production of Hair and quickly rises to superstardom on stage and screen. Collecting accolades, fans, lovers (in addition to an Oxford-educated, upper-class wife), decades pass, until one day he admits he’s “a lazy actor in league with bloodsuckers raiding the national treasury,” easily bought by corporations eager to capitalize on artistic sponsorships now that Brazil’s quarter-century-old dictatorship seems finished.

Middle age is not treating Mario well. Cast in a Stone Age-set production of King Lear, Mario bursts on stage, wearing stifling sheepskin costumes, and descends into unstoppable laughter, “overcome with a childish, demented, diabolic joy.” The madness of the betrayed monarch becomes Mario’s own, and he never quite regains control. “Catastrophes travel in packs,” of course, and off-stage, Mario’s personal life continues to implode as he’s called to his mother’s hospital bedside, where she mistakes him for her husband. The drama is about to get much, much worse.

Brazilian actor Fernanda Torres writes about what she knows, while writer, editor and translator Eric M.B. Becker provides English-language audiences ready access to Torres’s affecting performance on the page. Having alchemized theater into her standout debut, The End, Torres returns with another tragicomedy about the cost of “this bind they call fame” – the irresistible lure, the blinding reception, the fickle adoration, and the unrelenting need for reinventions.

Discover: Brazilian author Fernanda Torres’s tragicomic sophomore title features a middle-aged thespian beset by catastrophes both professional and personal.

Review: “Fiction,” Shelf Awareness, August 20, 2019

Readers: Adult

Published: 2017, 2019 (United States)


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