As part of a series on the twenty authors from The Best of Young Brazilian Novelists issue – which was first published in Portuguese by Objectiva – Luisa Geisler is introduced by previous Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelist Elvira Navarro.
Writing about childhood isn’t easy. The subject is familiar to everyone of course but also, thanks to our dodgy memories, all too easily rendered through banality and cliché, the graveyard of originality. Which is why we should be thankful for the young Brazilian author, Luisa Geisler. Her story ‘Lion’ is narrated from the perspective of a little girl without once falling into stock phrases that we readily associate with that period.
For Geisler, it’s enough simply to place herself within the perspective of the little girl, without diminishing her with put-on charms or faux-innocent thoughts. To see everything large and to see it all for the first time is what a child’s eyes constantly do, and Geisler goes with these experiences as they unfold. This attention to perspective coincides with what, in my opinion, is one of the basic principles of good literature: making us see things in a different way and, in so doing, plunging us into deep water.
In ‘Lion’, both plot (a little girl whose driving spirit is curiosity and the care of the treasures she stumbles on) and language seek to remain on the plane where life takes place. She reaffirms Mia’s zest for life by contrasting it with adult obligations embodied in the girl’s mother. Phlegmatic and routine-bound, the mother seems not to want to know much about what her daughter is doing, an attitude that generates ambiguity: perhaps her firstborn doesn’t really matter very much to her, although we might also think that in her comic negligence there shines a desire to let the child live her own life. In this way Geisler avoids the hackneyed role of the absent mother and offers us that thing so difficult to capture in writing: the infinite malleability of existence.