Torres, Fernanda. “The End”, translated by Allison Entrekin, Restless Books, 2017.
Five Aging Friends
Five aging male friends talk about their past hedonistic lives during their youth at Rio’s Copacabana. Now they face the realities of getting old. If I did not know better, I would have thought that this novel was deliberately sent to me so that I could be reminded of my own hedonistic past. This is the debut novel of Torres Fernanda, a Brazilian movie star.
The novel focuses on centers on Alvaro who lives alone and spends his time visiting doctor after doctor and complaining about the evils of his ex-wife, Silvio a junkie who is unable to give up sex and drugs even in his old age, Ribeiro, an athletic beach bum, who has with the help of Viagra extended his sex life, Neto, is the uncool member of the group and he has been a faithful husband until his last days, and Ciro is the Don Juan and the first to die. Their lives seem to be based on memories and those are memories of the good times and the bad times, memories of parties, marriages, divorces, of decisions that were bad, and now they are dealing with aging and the physical limitations that go along with it. They all share being frustrated and it is frustrations that stop them from finding the peace that they do not realize that they need. The voices we hear now are voices of the dead; the five are no longer with us but if they were this is what would be. The subjects that the guys deal with are considered societal taboos but they face them candidly and with brutal honesty as they talk abut infidelity and death, impotence and dealing with marriage yet we also see a certain shallowness in the fact that the word “love” is not mentioned. Were they too involved with their own selves to consider love?
The women we meet here are neglected and tired f battling with the men. I find it amazing that a woman could know men so well and that she could use what she knows to write this book. It is, as if, she becomes one of the characters herself and even more than that, she becomes one of the men.
The world of the five men is not a clean world and what we hear from them is far from clean talk. They seem to forget that the lives that they led were lives of their own choosing. They speak a language that is their own and it really represents who they are. Some may find this to be quite a crude and cruel read but we must understand that how we live is based upon decisions that we have made. Facing problems about ourselves is never easy and what we really see here is the failure of those who believed that living an open and free lifestyle of hedonistic pleasures was the way to go.
Torres has written this in the language of men and through our meeting the characters, we learn just how difficult it can be to remember sometimes. I almost forgot to mention religion here and we see it through the character of a priest who questions whether or not he made the right decision when he decided to become a man of the cloth.