Sweet Acculturated Delight
“Hello! Is this KBR?”
“I’d like some information about a book I’m trying to buy. I can’t find it anywhere.”
“Would you like the ebook or the printed version?”
“Well, I want the BOOK.”
Bingo. From this March on, KBR will have its 165 books (and going up, fortunately) for sale in printed version on Amazon Brazil — as reading ebooks, clearly, are not a local habit. That said, I must mention the endless obstacles faced by cultural enterprises in general, along with the difficulties presented to a small cultural entrepreneur — a true hero, whose daily life has nothing to do with a “joke”, as the hateful Dilma Rousseff’s Minister of Economy mockingly qualified it. The current government is the same that had previously decided to cut the (already scarce) funds for the Ministry of Culture.
Definitely, the kind of Brazil conceived by PT is not truly fond of the real Brazil, and this, indeed, is an imposing theme; but not the subject of the present essay. What I want to write about today is related to a businessperson and her literature — I mean, this businesswoman here and her literature — both having suffered, and the skills required to emerge from the unlucky web holding our local lack of culture.
You may not be aware that the over audacious KBR — pardon my lack of modesty — has been keeping, strictly and silently, a “business model” that has not come to fruition yet, but through hard persistence will do it soon. By audacious I mean capable of surviving in an environment that barely feeds its own desire to grow, or, on the other hand, is capable of fulfilling the needs of those who come to us. And by business model, I mean the “couple” ebook/ POD Alan “created” three or four years ago, already predicting the failure of the digital book in a country where very few people keep a reading habit. Even fewer readers are familiar with the acronym POD (Print on Demand), a concept that is about to become common knowledge, or so I hope.
I wonder how small editors are trying to cope with the likes of metadata, BISAC codes, and all the international stuff that Brazil (I was about to say “this country”, but then realized I’m no longer there) makes a point to keep away, understanding it should stay where it belongs. But this is not the topic of this essay either, so, let’s get to the point.
We intend to put KBR on these modern tracks — a trail we have been following for quite some time, and that, through its contemporaneity, has been responsible for the recent bankruptcy and failure of a Brazilian company… Well, at this point I can’t help myself, and a sidebar is mandatory.
The “broken” company I’ve just mentioned has once invited me to talk to some of its employees, about the adventure of publishing ebooks. Despite my expertise, I was truly nervous, and, by the time I got there, the result couldn’t have been different. They had already made up their minds concerning the “truth,” I mean, had been previously convinced that our pretension towards modernity was ridiculous. My pathetic efforts were mercilessly mocked, especially by a guy who has, himself, been recently humiliated, dismissed and removed from his “kingdom,” his castle now a pile of sand, go figure.
Anyway, all this deal is not even worth mentioning, but I could not avoid it. End of sidebar. This has taken my memory so far back I can barely remember what I was about to write.
There’s nothing like time to cheer us up, right? We normally hear: “Just wait, allow time’s little tricks to take place, and you will succeed.” And this is exactly my subject today: the satisfaction regarding book production throughout the years I’ve been part of the book trade.
I’ll make myself clear: To prepare all these titles to be distributed on demand, and make them available for Amazon Brazil, it was necessary to revisit one by one. During this endeavor, I could remember each one, each author who had closely shared with me this insane journey.
I remembered even those who decided to leave, the ones who refused to deal with my “hard to please” personality, not to say “very demanding”. For example, that writer who considered his work “perfect” — a text I was forced to cut in half in order to make it publishable. This person decided to sue me in order to get his original back, forcing me to hire a lawyer to defend myself from what I spontaneously felt like doing, that is, return it at all costs, escape from that can of worms. Or the woman who was sure she could do better as a self-published author, or that author whom I was truly fond of — we are still in touch —, and decided to abandon me in favor of a more important publisher. Who could blame him? I’d abandon myself too, let’s face it.
The funny part is that each one of them, including the “lucky one” who signed a contract with the big capitalist, would be better off with me, considering not only the fact that my books get more visibility, but also my persistent dedication, as in the case of this current revitalization. Each book feels like a dear friend, some, of course, less friendly than others, and I’m deeply devoted to all of them.
I’ve also — and I’m able to see it clearly now — learned a great deal about my own work, which I’ve only recently realized is entirely “mine,” after spending many years without knowing what truly pleased me. KBR feels like home to me, I truly enjoy it, and for that I am grateful. During this revitalization process, each book was updated, errors were found and corrected, a “historical” review that, I’m sure, few professionals would risk going through.
Among so many books, I’ll mention only one, simply because it’s the most recent, the “youngest” in our list, that will, for this reason, reach the market “packed” with my most recent knowledge, from cover to text. Well, I must confess there are other reasons, so, first, let me mention one or two things. Of all kinds of texts I edited and published — be it academic, literary or the unavoidable personal memoirs — the ones that pleased me the most were those in which the author touched his own depths, addressing personal and crucial subjects; books that have nothing to do with some fairly common “recipe for success mixed in a blender.” Do not listen to the song of that series, serial, ouch, to the song of that siren.
Back to the book. Israel do Brasil, through its many subjects and long text, addresses a basic period, and very basic people with whom I shared my life during childhood and adolescence in Belo Horizonte. For me, it represented a kind of “closure,” well, I must admit I’ve been by default in a “self-examining” mood, maybe an age issue, I’m not sure; what I know is that Israel Kuperman took a deep dive into his soul. The book, by the way, is not sophisticated or highly literary; on the contrary, it’s a delightful succession of well-told stories that managed to surprise me. Any reader who decides to take this journey will not only find the story of a successful and mistreated descendant of immigrants — another heroic executive in the “jungle” called Brazil. He will also discover crucial facts that contributed to build a nation that, due to its remarkable failures, ended up forging its third-world persona (such an elitist concept, believe me, we should feel sorry about it).
This is, of course, my personal opinion. The author himself oscillates between cheerful comments on Facebook — where good humor is a must to please “friends,” something like “This is Brazil, it slips and falls but never ends” — and his own bitter remarks about our management style — not mine, please count me out.
“Lately,” Israel writes, “I’ve been feeling sort of tired, because in every issue, and I mean every issue, there is an unanswered question; the public officers change the rules according to the circumstances. This may cause a lot of damage, mainly if one considers a hotel, which is supposed to last for a hundred years — you don’t build it for one day or one World Cup.” I guess all of us are well aware of the circumstances mentioned by the author.
Anyway, let’s not stick to our misfortunes, our addiction, well defined by Nelson Rodrigues with his acute insight about Brazilian’s “mutt complex.” On the contrary, let’s focus on our victories, our most pleasurable memories, the rich culture related to the “tribe” Israel so kindly shares, including his unique and exclusive recipe for success: honest work and privately owned capital.
It sounds like a joke, I know, considering that nothing is respected in Brazil, presently a demoralized society. Yes, this is Mr. Israel’s recipe for business and for life — an engineer, a judge and a hotelier who had become a farmer and tells his delightful stories with an also delightful traditional accent from Minas Gerais, a real pleasure. Thanks, Israel. And have a great Sunday, folks.
 Workers’ Party, currently in charge of the federal government.