What is it about?
This is a question that I can’t really answer, because Agua Viva is about everything, and also kind of about nothing. There is no plot, no real point, it is all about the voice of the narrator, rambling away about anything and everything; flowers, painting, capturing the moment, animals, music, love, death, money, identity. It is told as though by an artist writing a letter to unamed ‘you’ as a warm-up exercise before painting.
Is it any good?
If you are a writer, then I insist that you read this book; it will change the way you see voice, or at least make you reconsider how you do things. If you’re not a writer, you should read it anyway as it is a classic and revered piece of modernist writing that will resonate with anyone in some unique way. A personal highlight of the novel for me, is the section where Lispector lavishly describes various types of flower, giving each its own in-depth personality. Seeing as it’s such a short read, it would be a crime not to dip into this intriguing piece of 20th century Brazilian literature at least once.
How long did it take to read: one very, very busy week (you could probably read it in one short sitting, to be honest)
For fans of: trying something new, post-structuralism, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride
This book tastes like: fresh fish