Luís Pimentel retraces the sentimental cartography of Rio in a new book

Born in Feira de Santana, Bahian Luís Pimentel has lived in Rio de Janeiro since 1975, a city he has adopted as his own and where he has built a relevant professional and literary career, also dedicating himself to music and theater. A prolific and versatile author, he has published more than fifty books in different genres, some of them awarded in Brazil.

The most recent award, however, came from the town of Sintra, Portugal, where Pimentel won the 2021 Ferreira de Castro de Ficção Narrativa with the short story book Still Tem Sol em Ipanema, released this year in both countries. In Bahia, where he came to sign the first edition, he spoke to CORREIO about journalism, literature, education and his country project.

The Still Has Sun short story book in Ipanema (disclosure)

In addition to being a writer, you are a journalist. She has the profession in her DNA. What do you think of the compulsive bullying of peers in recent years, especially after experiencing the golden years of the Quibbler?
The coexistence between the professional press and the constituted power has always been confused. Of course, it gets worse and worse in dictatorships, but even in democracies, leaders have a bad habit of expecting journalists to treat them kindly. But I can’t remember a worse moment than that, in terms of intolerance, force, arrogance and disrespect on the part of the powerful, especially on the part of the President of the Republic. But rulers come and go and our duty to inform, criticize and demand with honesty and exemption continues.

In your opinion, at what point along the way did we make a mistake (press and society)? Were there no signs or bread crumbs indicating the way to go? What remains of this country that we invented?
I think the press follows society backwards, reflecting, commenting and discussing the changes, alterations or even hallucinations it sponsors. Whether it is when it elects a president who is outside the curve (human, political, moral), like the current one, or when he reacts, with initiatives that resonate like the letters for democracy. Without forgetting that the journalist is a human being and that the press is also part of society; therefore there are also wicked or misguided among them.

A very strong characteristic of his work is the versatility with which he moves between literary genres, having published poetry, short stories, cords, novels, youth, dramaturgy and music. What mobilizes you at the start of a project or does it come in a predefined format?
In general, they are born with your inclination. When I think about the subject I want or should treat, experience and intuition define the treatment to use. Moreover, some themes or motifs are even related to this or that genre, it cannot be another. Some ideas are already sketched for the imprint of the tale, they do not allow another. And so on.

After winning several national literary awards (Cruz e Souza, UBE, among others, and now the 2021 Ferreira de Castro Narrative Fiction Award, from the Municipality of Sintra, Portugal), how do you see these awards and how important are they?
I am happy when I receive a literary prize, especially those for unpublished works, because they entered with pseudonyms and there is no risk that the name of the author has influenced, which happens with many prizes for works already printed. I consider it a recognition for this work, there is a sense of accomplishment; however, without losing sight of the perspective that the prize is also a lottery. The prize-winning work could perfectly well not have been.

How did the stories in the new book come about? How is your creative process developing? When writing, do you think about the process thematically or does it take shape freely and impose itself on the author?
Based on the story of the title, which was naturally carioca, I decided that I would write others that were family and could inhabit the same volume. From there they emerged, always appearing freely as the nature of creation dictates, then being subject to the criteria of the author: wipe, reread, rewrite, locate… These things you know well.

You have lived in Rio de Janeiro for many years, since 1975, what imagery of the city is evoked in the thirty short stories of Still Have Sol in Ipanema?
These tales seek to portray the lives, scenarios, situations and struggles of the city I lived in for so many years, without being tied to themes or characters in set scenarios or times. The stories depict, in some way, the city, but not all of them are identifiable as in the title story, which specifically refers to a neighborhood. But those who know the city find their bearings and find themselves in the tales.

Recently, you were in Bahia, your country of origin, to launch the new book, which has an ear signed by the writer Dénisson Padilha Filho. What relationship with the Bahian literary scene? What do you think of contemporary Bahian literature?
I relate less than I would like to Bahia. But I’m always there when I can, I have brothers and nephews here, I’m invited every year to give a Literary Creation Workshop at the Santana Book Fair (where I spent all my childhood and youth ) and I’m friends with some Bahian writers, who live here, like Antonio Brasileiro, Roberval Pereyr, Elieser Cesar, Ruy Espinheira and Dénisson Padilha Filho – a fiction writer whom I greatly admire and who did me the honor of write the ear of Still Has Sol in Ipanema. In Rio, I live a lot with a compatriot for whom I have a lot of affection and admiration, Antônio Torres.

When I refer to Bahia, I logically include Feira de Santana, which, in my opinion, has great weight in the literary history of the state. What is your relationship today with Feira, with the local cultural movement?
In Feira, in addition to my family and many friends, I essentially have this professional relationship linked to the Literary Fair.

Bahia was at the center of his attention, in some of his books (eg Revolta dos Alfaiates). What is missing, what do you feel as a narrative gap, in the history of our people?
I don’t have that particular feeling about Bahia, no. I think there is a lot to read about the history of the Bahian people, many of which have already been told and retold in the work of our great writers, and we still have a lot to do, because there are Bahian publishers and authors working firmly in the Brazilian literary scene. I think the difficulty encountered is general. My book you refer to is Conjuro! – A Corda eo Cordel na Revolta dos Alfaiates, a historical novel inspired by our Conjuração dos Búzios. And there are many historical themes in Bahia that have already given or could give literary works.

Many of its youth titles have been selected in federal programs (PNBE, PNLD). In your opinion, what is the relevance of these projects for the training of the reader? How to encourage more effectively reading at school?
These government programs, which were scrapped along with the entire Department of Education in this scrap government, are fundamental to the education of poor students in public schools, whose families cannot afford to buy books. of literature. I have seen boys, in community schools in Rio, tremble with emotion when they received packages containing five or six books, beautiful, good, by great authors, something they had never seen. They are very important for the student and also for the survival of publishers and writers.

In your opinion, what do we need to take the leap? What should the writer aim for when crossing the desert? What is your country project?
My country project is one in which the desert is not so hard or so bitter and painful to cross.

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