(Reviewed by JD Jung)
“There’s something a bit queer in every male friendship. Fucking the same women is a roundabout way of fucking each other. And in the same physical space, it’s a fine line. But there’s no way—not joking, not off my face, not anything—I’d kiss Neto, Silvio, Ribeiro or Ciro. Well, maybe Ciro. Definitely Ciro. After forty, your turn-ons migrate. “
Alvaro, reminiscing about his long-time friends, was the last of them to die at age 85. He really hated everyone except his buddies. That included his ex-wife Irene. “I’ve said bad things about women. They deserve it. Men are all worthless too. And they weren’t made for one another.”
He outlived the “Don Juan” Ciro, the first one to die, by twenty-four years. Ciro ‘s lovers all attended his funeral.
At death, all of these men reminisce about the decadent days of 1960s Rio de Janeiro, full of dope, liquor and women. And those ex-wives that they despised. That is, except for Neto, the one who was more “grounded” and truly loved and stayed with his wife until her death. Though each of them had diverse backgrounds and personalities, certain characteristics were quite similar.
As we listen to each of these men at the time of their deaths, along with the third-person perspective from their wives and lovers, we not only learn how these macho men deal with the inevitable reality of aging—like impotence and Parkinson’s — but also the wild partying of Copacabana and other neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro. I didn’t particularly like these men—except for Neto— but I couldn’t wait to read more about each of their lives and those of the women involved. An additional plus was the priest who decided to change course.
This debut novel of Brazilian actress, Fernanda Torres, gives us a poignant yet humorous look of this era and the city that I only just heard about. Of course, the mythical, glamorous Rio and Copacabana that I imagined was nothing like this.
The End is the perfect read for those who enjoy entertaining reads about imperfect people and legendary places.