I sat for a video interview last Saturday for my novel The Snake Woman of Ipanema which proved, again, my powers of speech, meaning that I went constantly off topic, according to my interviewer Howard VanEs. I thought I was expanding on how and why I was led to researching and writing that book but I wasn’t the one having to edit the video to a final three-to-five minutes.
Howard tried and tried to rein me in with various tics and subtle hand gestures but I went on, serenely confident in his editing prowess. There was so much to tell. Brazil is a country of many layers. Like the United States, she was settled by explorers of another land, and like the United States those settlers went to Africa and captured people there to bring back to work their plantations. And the slaves were forced to convert to Catholicism, but slyly converted their new religion in their own version.The difference between the two histories is that there was no war of emancipation. Under the reign of Dom Pedro II of Portugal, complete emancipation was decreed in 1888.
Thus, bloodshed and bad feelings were averted, though a not-so-subtle division exists between the resulting mix-blood race and white people. At cocktail parties, the mostly pure caucasian engineers and businessmen, when I asked their opinion of the spirit rituals that take place in the thousands every night throughout Brazil, invariable opined that while they didn’t practice any of the rituals there was most definitely “something there.” It was known, however, through my other sources, that white office workers seeking to advance in their jobs did attend the terreiro (spirit ritual), commonly to “open their road” at work. There are less innocent terreiros (voodoo is a tourist term) and at least a dozen spirit sects, of which Umbanda and Candomble are the best known. The practice of Quimbanda, the black arts, is prohibited by the government, which of course is laughable. In Snake Woman Quimbanda is very much present.
There was so much to tell in the video interview. Poor Howard.