Sunday, April 3, 2011

A little help from my friends

This is an unusual post in that I am asking for your help, resourceful reader.

When my friend Juliana was in the hospital, working to redevelop her fine motor skills, she participated in a computer graphics art class. This is one of the pieces she made, and it makes me delightfully happy to see it.

I've mentioned Ju on this blog a handful of times since meeting her nearly a year ago. Setting aside her admirable, engaging and spirited personality--her story is incredible and impactful, and it deserves an even wider audience.

The link above is a promotional video for Na Minha Cadeira Ou Na Tua? (that is, In My Chair, Or Yours?, in which Juliana reads excerpts from the first pages of her book, which are transcribed and translated below. The book is Juliana's memoir, published in Brazil last year by Editora Terceiro Nome, which is arranged into journal-like entries that weave the two distinct trajectories in her life: before a mysterious illness left her in a wheelchair, and after.
Antes de começar a viver, é como se você assinasse um contrato. Uma das cláusulas diz que você vai experimentar as sensações mais incríveis, os prazeres mais indescritíveis, vai achar que o tempo é curto pra fazer tudo, vai amar, sorrir, ser feliz, vai desejar viver cem anos. Só que também faz parte do acordo, e está lá em letrinhas miúdas, que pra ter acesso a todos esses benefícios existem condicionantes: experimentar as piores dores, perder o chão quando menos se espera, sentir o buraco que se abre no peito por causa da sensação de impotência, desejar que não exista dor. Está tudo lá, no contrato desse imprevisível negócio, a vida.
Before you start to live, it's as if you had signed a contract. One of the clauses says that you will experience the most incredible sensations, the most indescribable pleasures, you will find that time is short to do everything, you’re going to love, to be happy—you’re going to want to live a hundred years. It’s just that another part of the agreement, and it’s there in the fine print, is that in order to have access to all these benefits there are conditions: experience the worst pain, lose the ground under your feet when you least expect it, feel the hole that opens in your chest when you sense your powerlessness, wish that pain didn’t exist. It's all there in the contract of this unpredictable business—life.
Uma dor avassaladora preencheu meu coração e derramei aquele choro sincero que vem com a sensação de que nada, mas nada mesmo, pode mudar a realidade que te cerca. Eu tinha dezenove anos, estava numa cadeira de rodas e não sentia nem mexia três quartos do meu corpo.
An overwhelming pain filled my heart and spilled from that sincere cry—a cry that comes with the sensation that nothing, absolutely nothing, can change the reality that surrounds you. I was nineteen years old, I was in a wheelchair, and I couldn’t feel nor move three-quarters of my body.
Among the items of business during my upcoming visit to Porto Alegre is to work with Ju on the trickier bits of the book's translation to English, which is nearing completion.

If you read this post and you, or anyone you know, has contact with a literary agent or publisher that might be interested in helping to get Juliana's book out to the English-speaking market, please get in touch. We have approval from Terceiro Nome, and the translated manuscript will be ready soon. Enquiries can be sent to jenny at ela brazil dot com.

Please, spread the word. Thank you!