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The Hour of the Star
     

The Hour of the Star

4.0 7
by Clarice Lispector, Giovanni Pontiero (Translator)
 

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Narrated by the cosmopolitan Rodrigo S.M., this brief, strange, and haunting tale is the story of Macabéa, one of life's unfortunates. Living in the slums of Rio and eking out a poor living as a typist, Macabéa loves movies, Coca-Colas, and her rat of a boyfriend; she would like to be like Marilyn Monroe, but she is ugly, underfed, sickly and unloved.

Overview

Narrated by the cosmopolitan Rodrigo S.M., this brief, strange, and haunting tale is the story of Macabéa, one of life's unfortunates. Living in the slums of Rio and eking out a poor living as a typist, Macabéa loves movies, Coca-Colas, and her rat of a boyfriend; she would like to be like Marilyn Monroe, but she is ugly, underfed, sickly and unloved. Rodrigo recoils from her wretchedness, and yet he cannot avoid the realization that for all her outward misery, Macabéa is inwardly free/She doesn't seem to know how unhappy she should be. Lispector employs her pathetic heroine against her urbane, empty narrator—edge of despair to edge of despair—and, working them like a pair of scissors, she cuts away the reader's preconceived notions about poverty, identity, love and the art of fiction. In her last book she takes readers close to the true mystery of life and leave us deep in Lispector territory indeed.

Editorial Reviews

Vogue
Macabea is one of the great antiheroines of modern fiction...the literary discovery of the decade.
Katherine Boo
“I felt physically jolted by genius.”
Jonathan Franzen
“A truly remarkable writer.”
Vogue.com
“A new translation of Clarice Lispector’s searing last novel, The Hour of the Star by Lispector biographer Benjamin Moser—with an introduction by Colm Tóibín—reveals the mesmerizing force of the revitalized modernist’s Rio-set tale of a young naif, who, along with the piquantly intrusive narrator, challenges the reader’s notions of identity, storytelling, and love.”
Saturday Review
“An artist of vivid imagination. If her work is thoughtful and poetic, distinguished by touching insight and human sympathy, it is also full of irony and wild humor.”
The New Inquiry
“The only antidote to stupidity is an agitated intelligence constantly prowling for blank spots in one’s outward seeming. The Hour of the Star is a romance, then, between stupidity and its neurotic observer, a restless stretching away from form, tradition, and the stupefying rules they impose on writing.”
The New York Times
“Lispector is the premier Latin American woman prose writer of this century.”
Benjamin Mosher - Vanity Fair
“If she does — dare I say it? — touch you, she touches you like nothing else you’ve ever read.”
Jesse Larsen - 500 Great Books by Women
“In less than one hundred pages, Clarice Lispector tells a brilliantly multi-faceted and searing story.”
The Faster Times
“This text investigates the knowledge of not knowing and the rich poverty of the inner void with stratagems of obfuscation, leaps of language, and suspensions of syntax and form that are perhaps best received by the gut.”
The Brooklyn Rail
“The reader finds herself in the throes of a master, rendered speechless with awe and terror.”
Barnes and Noble Review
“This is without a doubt one of the most audacious and affecting works of fiction I've ever read.”
Jeff Brewer - Critical Mob
“In this slim novella, Lispector uses an intricate narrative structure in order to represent a peculiar state of mind. Rodrigo, a well-off and cultured man, struggles to tell the story of the sad life of Macabéa, an unhygienic, sickly, unlovable, and an altogether "un-ideal" typist living in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. Although Rodrigo claims he's the only person who could love Macabéa—if only because she's the subject of his narrative—he really tells her story as a way to thwart his own isolation. Lispector employs odd sentence fragments and erratic grammatical choices to highlight the importance of imagination as a means for her characters to liberate themselves from their banal existences. Through Rodrigo's narrative, Lispector artfully ponders the fate of her characters, and their fears and desires, in a harsh and unforgiving cityscape. Startlingly original and profoundly sad,The Hour of the Staris a provocative work by a highly influential author who should be more widely read.”
Charles Larson - Counter Punch
“The Hour of the Startrips up our concept of the novel. What a story is expected to do. How characters act. Why writers write. Why readers read. It’s an experience you won’t forget.”
Vanity Fair
If she does — dare I say it? — touch you, she touches you like nothing else you’ve ever read.— Benjamin Mosher
500 Great Books by Women
In less than one hundred pages, Clarice Lispector tells a brilliantly multi-faceted and searing story.— Jesse Larsen
Critical Mob
In this slim novella, Lispector uses an intricate narrative structure in order to represent a peculiar state of mind. Rodrigo, a well-off and cultured man, struggles to tell the story of the sad life of Macabéa, an unhygienic, sickly, unlovable, and an altogether "un-ideal" typist living in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. Although Rodrigo claims he's the only person who could love Macabéa—if only because she's the subject of his narrative—he really tells her story as a way to thwart his own isolation. Lispector employs odd sentence fragments and erratic grammatical choices to highlight the importance of imagination as a means for her characters to liberate themselves from their banal existences. Through Rodrigo's narrative, Lispector artfully ponders the fate of her characters, and their fears and desires, in a harsh and unforgiving cityscape. Startlingly original and profoundly sad, The Hour of the Star is a provocative work by a highly influential author who should be more widely read.— Jeff Brewer
Counter Punch
The Hour of the Star trips up our concept of the novel. What a story is expected to do. How characters act. Why writers write. Why readers read. It’s an experience you won’t forget.— Charles Larson
Library Journal
As Lispector was dying in 1977, she and her secretary constructed this novel from notes, which partially explains its fragmentary nature. The detached male narrator, Rodrigo S.M., tells the story of Macabéa, a rickety, Coca-Cola-drinking virgin from the poor region of Alagoas, who moves to Rio's urban jungle. She lands a job as a typist and becomes enamored of the self-seeking Olímpico. After he dumps her for the worldlier Glória, Macabéa requests the advice of a fortune teller. No sooner is she buoyed by the seer's optimistic predictions than she is run over by a car. The joy of this novel is that we experience both Rodrigo's indulgent introspection as well as Macabéa's woeful life. This new translation begs comparison with Giovanni Pontiero's 1986 version; many phrases are identical, but some wording is slightly different or has been contemporized. The translator, author of the Lispector biography Why This World, understands the nuances of Lispector's often-hermetic style. VERDICT For readers who passed it up the first time, now would be the chance to become acquainted with the last and perhaps finest work of one of the foremost authors of 20th-century Brazilian literature.—Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, OH

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780811211901
Publisher:
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date:
02/28/1992
Series:
New Directions Paperback Series , #733
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
96
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.30(d)

What People are Saying About This

Katherine Boo
I felt physically jolted by genius.
Jonathan Franzen
A truly remarkable writer.

Meet the Author

Clarice Lispector (1925-1977) has come to be considered the most important woman writer in contemporary Brazilian letters. The author of seven novels and short-story collections as well as children's books, her translated work—into Czech, Spanish, French, German and English—has gained her a strong international reputation.

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The Hour of the Star 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is literally insane and well written. The book is a captivating story about a woman who has no point to life. The description of her ovaries 'like overcooked mushrooms' tell us this. The book is so random and will keep throwing surprises at you. I read the book with in a day. The book has like twelve possible titles when you open it. You cannot help, but adapt her style of writing.
OakleyM More than 1 year ago
I never imagined that a novel this short could be so utterly fantastic. Buy it. Read it. Read it one more time. Be amazed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters in the book were difficult to follow. There may have been reason for this but I found it confusing. I suspect that the translation may have contributed to my confusion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great look at someone at the bottom of the barrel from the perspective of someone at the top. I love the fact that Lispector is a woman and writes as a man telling the story of another woman. Very interesting stylistic choice. Very boring beginning but push through because it's the setup for the rest of the book. Great brief read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Clarice Lispector's 'Hour of the Star' is a charming tale about a young girl who floats through life without a clear sense of purpose. Macabea, the protagonist, is ignorant rather than stupid. Growing up in a world of poverty and social destitution has left her with not a friend in the world and not a clue how to adapt to the realities of a society that demands conformity. So why would anyone want to read a story about a tragic girl whom nobody loves? You'll have to read 'Hour of the Star' yourself and find your own meaning. Lispector has a great talent for bestowing great significance to mundane and ordinary things. Although it's a bit random and vague at times, I enjoyed the book's philosophical ramblings and its tragic anti-heroine.