Ruy Castro delves into the past and present of Rio, where even in periods of comparative calm there has always been a palpable excitement in the air - the feeling of a city on fire. In this spellbinding fifth entry in Bloomsbury's The Writer and the City series, Rio de Janeiro's vibrant history unfolds. While stiff-collared poets flirted with prim young ladies in coffeehouses during the belle epoque, revolts were being plotted that almost destroyed the city. We learn how the iconic wave-patterned mosaics of Copacabana pavements were baptized with blood, and how more than a hundred years before the girl from Ipanema passed by, the girls from Ouvidor Street adopted French chic - and never really gave it up. From what is arguably the most breathtakingly beautiful city in the world, the people of Rio - the Cariocas - tell their stories: of cannibals charming European intellectuals; of elegant slaves and their shabby masters; of how a casual chat between two people drinking coffee on Avenida Rio Branco could affect world coffee markets; of an awe-inspiring beach life; of favelas, drugs, police, carnival, football, and music. With his own Carioca good humor and great storytelling gifts, Ruy Castro brings the reader thrillingly close to the flames.

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