Welcome to Travel Readings
Melbourne: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
Books, Movies and Beyond…
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Washington, DC and New York
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Rome
Rio de Janeiro: Crimes of August (Agosto) by Rubem Fonseca
Istanbul: The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk
Liège (Belgium): Pedigree by Georges Simenon
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Lisbon
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Cambodia
Hyde Park, Chicago: Ravelstein by Saul Bellow
Paris: Flowers of Ruin and Suspended Sentences by Patrick Modiano
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Naples
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Tanzania
Sri Lanka: Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje
Books, Movies and Beyond… : Venice
Dublin: The Dead by James Joyce
Books, Movies and Beyond: Iran
Santa Cruz, Bolivia: The Matter of Desire (Materia del Deseo) by Edmundo Paz Soldán
Books, Movies and Beyond: Syria
Djibouti: Passage of Tears (Passage des Larmes) by Abdourahman Waberi
Books, Movies and Beyond: Armenia
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: The Parachute Drop by Norbert Zongo
Bangkok: Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap
Périgord, France: The Caves of Périgord by Martin Walker
Books, Movies and Beyond: Brussels
Naples: The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
Books, Movies and Beyond: Rio de Janeiro
Tajikistan: Hurramabad by Andrei Volos
New-York: City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg
Israel and Palestine: To the End of the Land by David Grossman and Wild Thorns by Sahar Khalifeh
Books, Movies and Beyond: Bavaria and Southern Germany
Cape Town: Boyhood, Youth and Summertime by J.M. Coetzee
Books, Movies and Beyond: India
Blue Ridge Mountains: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Books, Movies and Beyond: Algeria
Austrian Alps: A Whole Life (Ein ganzes Leben) by Robert Seethaler
Books, Movies and Beyond: Africans in America
Zimbabwe: The Last Resort by Douglas Rogers
Books, Movies and Beyond: Colombia
Belgian Ardennes: The All Saints’ Day Lovers by Juan Gabriel Vásquez
Côte d’Ivoire: Aya of Yop City by Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie
Japan: Haruki Murakami and Amélie Nothomb
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and The Rope and The Denial of Saint Peter by Charles Baudelaire
Books, Movies and Beyond: Cairo
Vancouver: What is Remembered by Alice Munro
Ghent (Belgium): War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans
Haiti: An Aroma of Coffee and Dining with the Dictator by Dany Laferrière and The Comedians by Graham Greene
Iceland: Jar City by Arnaldur Indriðason
Siena and Tuscany : Il Palio delle contrade morte by Fruttero & Lucentini and The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
China : Wild Swans. Three Daughters of China, by Jung Chang
Amsterdam: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris
Former Soviet Union: The Unwomanly Face of War  by Svetlana Alexievich
Provence: The Horseman on the Roof by Jean Giono, La charrette bleue by René Barjavel, Madame de Sévigné and Ventoux by Bert Wagendorp
Moscow: The House of Government by Yuri Slezkine, The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov and Limonov by Emmanuel Carrère
Books, Movies and Beyond: Vietnam

Rio de Janeiro: Crimes of August (Agosto) by Rubem Fonseca

Photo credit: Artyominc

Photo credit: Artyominc

The last pages in « Crimes of August » describe a calm and normal day in Rio. « The one thousand and seven hundred tourists who had disembarked from the ship Santa Maria visited the main touristic spots of the city and all enthusiastically agreed that Rio deserved its title of Wonderful City”.

Difficult not to agree with this title for anybody who has seen the sun set on the Sugar Loaf from the hills of Botafogo, who walked on Ipanema beach or braved the crowds at the foot of the Christ the Redeemer’ statue on Corcovado.

agosto crimesofAugust


Nevertheless, Rubem Fonseca’s novel doesn’t show the easy, relax and welcoming Brazil enjoyed by so many visitors.  The author had a distinguished career in the carioca police. His story is punctuated by the stomach’s pains suffered by inspector Mattos who is investigating a murder case linked to a corruption case. Mattos, who has an ulcer, is a big fan of Italian opera and is also one of the few incorruptible cops in Rio, still the Brazilian capital city at the time. His former girlfriend, Alice, who might be drowning towards madness, is divorcing one of the murder’s suspects. She comes back into Mattos’s flat, stirring the jealousy of Salete, a girl from the favelas who seduced the inspector.

This plot is intertwined with the August 1954 Rua Tonelero events, an assassination attempt on  Carlos Lacerda, the main opponent to President Getúlio Vargas. Major Vaz, who was with Lacerda was killed in the attempt. Did Lieutenant Gregório Fortunato, the « Black Angel » from the President’s personal guard mastermind the attack? Is he also linked to the murder investigated by Mattos who established that the murderer was black and left on the crime scene a ring similar to the one worn by Fortunato.

The Rua Tonelero events will be exploited by the opposition to Vargas, who, engulfed in the scandal, will take his life in the early morning of August 24, 1954.

Today, visitors can see in the Catete Palace, the former presidential palace before the move to Brasilia, the private apartments occupied by Vargas.  The revolver and the bloodied pajama shirt are showcased as evidence of the drama that shook the nation and the « Wonderful City ».

Vargas' bloodied pajama and revolver

Vargas’ bloodied pajama and revolver


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