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LUIS FERNANDO VERÕSSIMO

Self-interview

Are you the jealous type?
I was born right here in Bolivia. Being born was the best thing that could have happened to me. I wouldnít be who I am today if I hadnít been born. I think it was a normal delivery. I asked my mother, but she insists she wasnít there at the time. I suspected there was something wrong with me when my father brought his friends to see me at the hospital nursery but kept pointing at another baby. It took me a while to start talking. For two or three years, despite my familyís insistence, the only thing I would say was my name, rank and serial number. Iím a Libra. My life is ruled by Saturn, Uranus and, oddly enough, the conductor Isaac Karabtchevsky.

Have you ever been kissed?
I consider myself a leftist. Iím certain my children will live under socialism one day. In Paris, at my expense. I hadnít quite understood the meaning of the term Ďsavage capitalismí until an IMF representative got off the plane in Brasilia, asked someone to carry his bags and a minister from the federal governmentís economic team said, "Yes, bwana." I donít know if the IMF is really going to interfere in Brazil but when the mission was in Rio, one of its members was seen pointing at Sugarloaf and asking: "Wouldnít the Christ statue look better over there?" I donít understand why an entire nation should submit itself to the interests of international bankers. They are no better than Brazilian bankers. But donít mistake me for a radical leftist. Iím no Jorginho Guinle. [T.N. Carioca socialite and playboy]

Do you prefer blondes or brunettes?
Well, I feel the same about death as I do about the phenomenon of multinationals. Itís there, it exists, it canít be avoided, it might even be a good thing since it creates jobs, and so on Ė but Iím against it. As to everlasting life, I donít worry about whether it exists; I worry about getting there and finding all the best spots already taken. The Etruscans have probably got all the penthouses; the Phoenicians, the lakefront property; and weíll end up in a room one floor below a Flamenco dance school, forever. But Iím an agnostic materialist. I donít believe in anything I canít pick up, feel, smell, or bite. I donít believe in LuŪza Brunet, for example.

Do you like Roberto Carlos?
I think things are ripe for a coup in Brazil at the moment. Even more so in Rio, where itís rained a lot. Which as we know gives the frog a strategic advantage.

Are you a cynic or do you believe in love?
I had a normal childhood, second class, at the back. My family was so middle class that there were 3.2 children in it. My first sexual experience involved a neighbor, but she never knew about it. I quit studying when I decided that school wasnít preparing me for what I wanted: the life of a loafer. Everything I learned life taught me. Just donít ask me whose life. In sixteen years of journalism I learned a lot, like you should never touch the tab button on the typewriter because it screws everything up. Iíve been a voter since 1957, but donít blame me for J‚nio. I wasnít the only one.

Are you a sexist or are you more progressive?
Substitute for MillŰr? Wait a minute. There must be some mistake. I came here to take out a subscription. Let go of me!

as translated by Diane Grosklaus