Backlands[Ebook] ➩ Backlands By Victoria Shorr – In this Bonnie and Clyde story of love and betrayal a band of outlaws fight for control of the brutal Brazilian outbackSet in the sparse frontier settlements of northeastern Brazil—a dry forbidding In this Bonnie and Clyde story of love and betrayal a band of outlaws fight for control of the brutal Brazilian outbackSet in the sparse frontier settlements of northeastern Brazil—a dry forbidding and wild region the size of Texas known locally as the Sertao—Backlands tells the true story of a group of nomadic outlaws who reigned over the area from about until Taking from the rich admired—and feared—by the poor they were led by the famously charismatic bandit Lampiao The gang maintained their influence by fighting off all the police and soldiers the region could musterA one eyed goat rancher who first set out to avenge his father's murder in a lawless land Lampiao proved to be too good a leader fighter and strategist to ever return home again By he commanded the biggest gang of outlaws in Brazil Known to this day as a prince Lampiao had everything brains money power charisma and luck Everything but love until he met Maria BonitaYou teach me to make lace and I'll teach you to make love—this was the song the bandits marched to across the vast open reaches of their starkly beautiful Backlands and it was Maria Bonita who made it come true She was stuck in a loveless marriage when she met Lampiao but she rode off with him becoming ueen of the Bandits Together the couple—still celebrated folk heroes—would become the country's most wanted figures protecting their extraordinary freedom through cunningVictoria Shorr's stunning literary debut tells Maria's story her narrative of the intense freedoms terrors and sorrows of this chosen life the end of which is clear to her all along With the federal government in Rio mobilizing against the bandits Backlands describes the epic final days of Lampiao’s fatal month July on the River of Disorder as the gang struggles to summon their good star to save them one time. Sorry but I did not like this book Here is whyThe story line is confusing because you incessantly switch back and forth in time On top of this I had difficulty with the Portuguese names You also switch between historical data and personal perspectives Way too much repetition How many times are we told that Lampiao Virgulino Ferreira da Silva 1897 1938 became a bandit because he sought revenge for the unjust killing of his father? This is not the only example The book is filled with violence horrendous crimes savage cruelty and corruption Not just by the bandits but also the corrupt police forces In fact the people felt closer to Lampiao than to their police He stood for justice than the police did than the authorities or any of those holding the reins I concede that the book does describe vividly and accurately the deplorable reality of life in the Brazilian outback of the Sertao one of the four sub regions of the northeast of Brazil in the 1920s and 30s Overpopulated semi arid hinterlands You end with the death of Lampiao and his beloved Maria Bonita Maria Déia fourteen years his junior Heads on poles It is graphic I can in fact excuse the grizzly details because that was the reality It is just that you are also told of Lampiao's love of life of dance of music of colored silks of good food of lovemaking I never felt this love; it was always spoken of as LOST loved Something once had but now gone You never feel the happiness Instead you feel loss and regret and hopelessness because it is gone Because it was futile The couple had a childbut her fate is doomed too The book explains why The book tries to get inside the heads of both Lampiao and Maria Bonito but I never saw any happiness in this book or in them You so need to feel it to balance the horror I didn't enjoy the melancholic tone of the language The writing is too drippy too emotional too wordySections of the book are so very s l o w They never end Maria Bonita's view spoilerfailed marriage hide spoiler Backlands tells the story of Lampaio a Brazilian bandit and his girlfriend Maria Bonita as their Robin Hood like reign over the arid frontier region nears its end Poverty drought and corruption drove many young men and women to join the bandits that proliferated in northeastern Brazil in the 1920’s and 30’s Victoria Shorr brought the era and country alive as well as the folk heroes Lampaio and Maria Bonita Excellent historical fiction Romantic folk telling – A folk hero couple in Brazil’s outback Northeast Brazil 1922 1938 If Victoria Shorr hadn’t lived in Brazil for ten years I doubt she’d have written or we’d be treated to this unusual historical novel about nomadic banditry “full of beauty and danger” at a time and place completely unfamiliar to most of usIn fluid mystical storytelling Backlands lets us imagine what it might have been like for two legendary Brazilian outlaws – Lampião and Maria Bonita – to have roamed a remote desert like landscape “cut loose as if by magic from the worries of the rest of the world” The surprise is how much we have in common with the humanity of the couple’s motives and passions – powerful themes of justice fairness freedom happinessAs much as Shorr’s debut novel is about two hero bandits whose hearts were stirred by music and dancing it’s also about a sweeping terrain called the Sertão where they hid out “under the stars” for so many years The reader too is swept along by a landscape that makes you feel“overcome by the beauty the light coming across the vastness a color of light you’ve never uite seen before an endless stretch of wilderness ‘caatinga’ they call it dotted with thornbrush and all kinds of cactus though it isn’t uite a desert There are trees thick beautiful trees well shaped and spaced as if planted in an English park ‘A vast garden with no owner’ the great Euclides called it a hundred years ago and it’s still true You listen and hear nothing and then goat bells in the distance”The gentle prose isn’t meant to fit the decades of violence that spread throughout an area the size of Texas in the 1920s and 30s by a gang of bandits led for fourteen years by Virgulino Ferreira da Silva known as Lampião before joined for another eight years by his “Beautiful Maria” Instead it evokes their hearts in soft melodious prose that could easily be read aloud like legends passed down through the ages orallyBecause the outlaws like their culture were deeply religious spiritual superstitious – praying to saints to protect them bring rains on their parched goat farms keep them alive – there’s an otherworldly aura to the novel Even its copper sepia cover is dreamlikeThe Sertão “bigger than Brazil” is backcountry so removed from the rest of Brazil “almost another country” I’d guess most Brazilian’s haven’t even ventured there But legends live onStill if asked to name outlaws who’ve lived on in folklore films and books Bonnie and Clyde Jesse James Billy the Kid Pancho Villa would come to mind Surely not Lampião and Maria Bonita unless you studied or fancied folklore history The Portuguese who came to Brazil in the 1500s have a word for these do gooder outlaws cangaço And there’s a journal devoted to outlaw heroes along with a term to describe them “social bandits” So this is a tale comprised of many tales of polite banditry “murder and courtesy” about a “bandit with a good heart” and the younger woman he lovedThe Sertão is a strange mix of American southwestern cowboy country Australian outback and something fantastic given the waters of the Rio Sao Francisco that slice through it and the “very exotic bush with a beautiful shape and large base called an ‘Umbo” tree that can thrive without the water their fruit and shade could save you in the desert”On its lands live the rich and the powerful but mostly the poor the very poor the powerless The rich were corrupt politicians and wealthy landowners especially those who lived on the coast The poor were those who managed “day by day” simple lives raising goats some cattle and in the best of times some cotton They were also the ones whose boundaries were trampled on possessions stolen and killed when the droughts and famine came plentiful in this area near the euatorThat’s what happened to Lampião’s family including the murder of his father He’d been a “law abiding cowboy” who tried to avenge and honor his family’s injustice in court But when he failed he chose to go outside the law to vindicate all his people stealing from the rich to help the poor Regardless of who chased and betrayed him – police soldiers mercenaries – he always outsmarted them Twenty years without getting caught is a long time There’s “no such thing as old age for bandits” Except during the month of July when Lampião believed his fate would be sealed The reader senses the fatalism Knows what matters is the romanticism of the journey we’re onThe historical backdrop is a 200 year history leading up to the time when a new President Getúlio Vargas came to power in 1930 He sought to centralize and improve his country which meant ridding those who terrorized it Not easy when the “King of the Bandits” was venerated as a “thunder god” – untouchable beloved protected by the peopleLampião and Maria both had charisma and style Lampião was the bravest one a natural leader expertly skilled with an exceptional tracking eye he’d lost one injured by cactus for the land he loved“Loved the very distances the great broad vistas with nothing to break them loved the fact that it couldn’t be tamed couldn’t be trusted and loved even what it took from them to survive”Moving back and forth in time within chapters the novel is told in stories of halcyon days and of the bandits’ escapes from the law militias anyone seeking glory to capture the “most wanted man in Brazil”Escape was also Maria’s reason for becoming a bandit She escaped an arranged loveless marriage at age 16 how else could a poor family care for 11 children? to an old shoemaker six lonely miserable years until the day she heard Lampião singing She instantly knew he was her destiny despite the risks He famously sang about teaching love in exchange for lacemaking which the women did When they danced together “she felt she was dancing for her mother too and her grandmother her aunts and cousins especially the ones who died young Died of old age at thirty – the poor”All the characters are based on real historical ones such as members of Lampião’s gang like his brothers Levino and Ezeuiel and of course his enemies One was a lieutenant on the Piranhas one of the region’s seven states police force named Bezerra The author has structured her novel to give voice to these two perspectives a voice that speaks for the bandits governed by loyalty and love for their leader a code of rules and a “never ending fear” of being caught Often that voice is Maria’s The other voice speaks for the police forever trying to catch the outlaws Nicely sprinkled throughout are newspaper accounts of so many who “seemed to have fallen in love with Lampião” Why not? When he was happy “it was like a warm soft blanket over them all”Lampião was “so interwoven with the fabric of life in the Sertão that to destroy him you’d have to destroy that fabric” Which brings us back to where we began An unusual novel about unusual banditry fighting for a way of life totally unfamiliar to us And gone Until nowLorraine EnchantedProsecom A one eyed goat rancher who first set out to avenge his father's murder in a lawless land Lampiao proved to be too good a leader fighter and strategist to ever return home again By 1925 he commanded the biggest gang of outlaws in Brazil Known to this day as a prince Lampiao had everything brains money power charisma and luck Everything but love until he met Maria BonitaYou teach me to make lace and I'll teach you to make love this was the song the bandits marched to and it was Maria Bonita who made it come true She was stuck in a loveless marriage when she met Lampiao but she rode off with him becoming ueen of the Bandits Together the couple still celebrated folk heroes would become the country's most wanted figures protecting their extraordinary freedom through cunning Shorr’s prose is beautiful as she tells their tale in this historical fiction of Lampaio I have no idea what’s wrong with my keyboard tonight and Maria Bonito who reign over Brazil’s Sertao from 1925 1938 as polite bandits dispensing justice and keeping order in the inhospitable wilderness Victoria Shorr did a great job of bringing this story to life While the tale of this Brazilian outlaw started off a bit slow it uickly picked up the pace and turned into an exciting adventure The story of the gang and the lady that follows them is a deep and fun romp through the timeframe I got the copy of Backlands through the Goodreads Firstreads program and it was a good edition to my book collection Great book I feel like I visited Brazil in the 1900's What a strange and beautiful country and language So uniue and Victoria Shorr does a wonderful job describing it This book seems custom made to make into a movie  I do not consider that a bad thing even if this story is not precisely the sort of story I am most fond of  There is an air of the Greek tragedy about this book as it takes a real life outlaw hero in Brazilian history who fought with police and ruled over a large and semi arid section of Northeastern Brazil that spread over the inland parts of several states in the region  The story is not one that would be unfamiliar to any similar society with harsh divides between a corrupt elite and a large group of exploited rural workers and small town dwellers whose austere lives are punctuated by various acts of violence that are exploited by outlaw antiheroes  The broad outlines of this story are the sort that one finds in the American West in the stories of Jesse James and his gang Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or in the stories of Bonnie and Clyde that were roughly contemporaneous with his particular novel's timeline from 1922 to 1940 or so  One could easily imagine a Brazilian filmmaker taking this story and making a successful film out of it given its resonance with the rural history of Brazil and many other placesThis particular book is about 300 pages long and covers the period between 1922 and 1940 focusing on the period between 1932 and 1938  We are introduced to a group of people that centers around the conflict between a bandit chief named Lampião his doll Maria his fellow bandits and the people they interact with and engage in various protection rackets with and the police forces they alternatively bargain with and fight with  The two narratives one of them in the present day of 1938 and one of them a retrospective both move towards a dramatic showdown where the bandit chief and his woman will be killed in a bloody shootout in the middle of the night that attempts to bring order to rural Brazil that had been lacking before when the central government did not consider it a critical matter to end the bandit disorders that had been associated with overly powerful rural grandees whose oppression encouraged lawlessness from the exploited and dispossessed  The false dilemma between anarchy and tyranny is never one that I have particularly appreciated but the novel itself follows a well worn path of stories going back to Robin Hood and many others like itAgain I must emphasize that while I respected the craft of this book particularly the skillful way that the author managed to cut between different timelines as the plot progresses to its inevitable ending this book was not written for me  And that's okay  There are many people this book was written for including those who have a taste for outlaw antiheroes that is greater than my own  The author clearly has a great deal of sympathy for the outlaw chief Lampião and his beloved Maria Bonita who ran away from her abusive husband to be with him  The novel does a great job at showing how it is that popular outlaw chiefs are defeated through central governments that feel the need to use violent coercion to destroy outlaw forces that threaten the public reputation of the regime as well as snitches who are able to provide information about where the outlaws are operating  There is a lot of ambivalence to be found here as pressure is placed from on high upon corrupt officers who reluctantly follow up on the hunches of turncoats who have their own reasons to wish to betray the bandit chiefs and who have the luck of surprising the bandits and destroying them in a massive shootout that the author clearly feels reluctant to celebrate  I'm generally a supporter of the forces of order preferring even imperfect orders to the disorder of bandit chieftains  But not everyone feels the same way obviously This is an intriguing book for those wanting a greater understanding of the development of Brazil as it was in the 1920's It helps the reader understand just how huge Brazil truly is and it reminded me of tales or movies one recalls of the Wild West settlement in the late 1800's The focus is primarily on a band of nomads who travel a region in NE portion of Brazil where most of the land is undeveloped and a smattering of communities spread hither and yon These are the towns where Lampiao and his bandits regularly terrorize but they only rob from the rich It is because of this that many admire him and his legend is a story of awe than fear Ms Shorr brings this story to live in a vivid manner I read this story several years ago and perhaps I do it a disservice with 3 stars I remember enjoying the characters immensely That said at times I wearied of the details and the seemingly unending story of their travels which was often a tale of hardship as they sought enough food to survive and while they had times of plenty it was infreuent I would recommend it to all fans of westerns and anyone who would enjoy a Portuguese version of a modern day Robin Hood There is a love story as well and it does adds energy to this tale of survival I found this book to be entertaining but slow moving at times I did admire the manner in which the author highlighted the dynamic of how the nationallocal powers pitted normal people against each other As the reluctant policeman converged on the bandit band he continuously thought of how there were no true differences between them That realization was striking How does the author get me so interested in the people who live in the backlands of Brazil during the early part of the 20th century? I don't know but I couldn't put this downGood bits about daily life the bandits' strategy the people's love for the bandits

Backlands ePUB ¿ Hardcover
  • Hardcover
  • 304 pages
  • Backlands
  • Victoria Shorr
  • 07 March 2016
  • 9780393246025