Today, in São Paulo, Brazil, on what would have been his father’s 86th birthday, Cláudio Carvalhaes
will release and autograph his new book, Hi Dad, Imaginary Dialogues between a Son and a Father who Has Died
(PerSe Publishing, Brazil).
Hi Dad, published in Portuguese (Oi Pai, Diálogos imaginários deum filho com o pai que já se foi. Imaginário de um pai encantado), is the narration of imaginary conversations compiled by Carvalhaes over an entire year in the coffee shops of New York City. These stories are as much about his father as they are about him and the interruption of a relationship of love terminated by his father’s sudden death. Using various language forms, theology, liturgy, and critical theory, Hi Dad addresses diverse issues that arise from these (dis)continued talks.
“Fractured by the presence of an absence and hoping for a time of gentleness, this book offers, in the words of a famous Brazilian poet Chico Buarque, ‘a time that can redo what was undone,’” says Carvalhaes.
In retelling the imaginary conversations, Carvalhaes says he presents “the life of my father, a fascinating Brazilian citizen, engage[s] with the remains of death and [tries] to find ways to wrestle with those remains during the first year after his death.”
“The Bulgarian-French writer Julia Kristeva once made a distinction between stories/fictions of the ego and stories/fictions of the subject,” he explains. “For her, stories/fictions of the ego has to do with the reality –televisions shows so popular nowadays – and intends only to feed the ego of the individual and expose him/her to ridicule, leaving the spectator outside of the story, with an uncompromised distance. On the other hand, in stories/fictions of the subject, the stories of the individual intend to offer some sense of emotional/historical/philosophical support that has the benefit of connecting the reader with the life of the subject and his/her stories. Such a connection offers the possibility of mutual engagement and historical transformation for both the reader and writer.”
Carvalhaes hopes the stories in his book fit the latter stories/fictions of the subject category and offer support, engagement, and transformation for those who live on after the pain and strange blessing of the death of beloved ones.