‘Family Ties’ by Clarice Lispector, translated by Katherine Dodson

‘After the dinner we’ll go to the movies,’ the man decided. Because after the movies it would be night at last, and this day would shatter with the waves on the crags of Arpoador.

I love my family, but have no desire to be in a car with them. Consequently, I’ve chosen this, very short story which begins as the holiday ends. It was first published as part of a larger collection by Francisco Alves Editoria In 1960, although I encountered it via Katrina Dodson’s translation in one of those slim pistachio Penguin books entitled ‘Daydream and Drunkeness of a Young Lady’ (2018).  Little happens in ‘Family Ties’ besides an unnamed woman saying goodbye to her mother, and feeling relieved to think that the ‘cautious tact’ that has prevailed throughout her visit will soon be over. At the same time the woman’s warmth, both towards her mother and her own, somewhat distant child are depicted with the utmost tenderness. It only takes a minutes to read, but always leaves me with a lump in my throat.

First published as the title story in Laços de família, Francisco Alves, 1960. First published in – a different – English translation in Family Ties, Texas Pan American Series, 1984 and more recently in The Complete Short Stories, New Directions/Penguin Classics, 2015 and Daydream and Drunkenness of a Young Lady, Penguin Modern, 2018). Chosen by Susan Finlay, who is author of, most recently, Indole (The Aleph Press) and Our Lady of Everything (Serpent’s Tail)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s