In the novel “Meninos Suspensos”, Daniel, the main narrator, finds himself in front of his friend’s body in the morgue. While organizing preparations for the funeral, his mind wanders to important moments in his life. Faithful to the flow of thoughts, author DB Frattini constructs a polyphonic narrative, full of criticism, suspense and irony.
The plot begins with the inevitability of death, but does not focus on mourning. This event works as a starting point for an immersion into the feelings experienced by Daniel over six decades. He recalls crucial moments, from the murder of his parents during the military dictatorship to his life in a religious school, including his deep relationship with the arts.
While criticizing the customs of Brazilian society, the author also reflects on human existential conflicts. Through a multiplicity of voices, readers are led to experience different situations: a boy with obsessive-compulsive disorder prohibited from acting on his impulses; a woman who accepts a marriage arranged by her family, but sees her union fall apart; young people in a homosexual relationship who need to sacrifice their passion in the name of religion, among other examples.
“Meninos Suspensos” is not only the result of DB Frattini’s literary work, but also reflects his experience in the performing arts. As a retired playwright, he brings elements of the theater of the absurd to prose. In addition to characters trapped in their own circumstances, the narrative challenges the reader’s perception of reality: at several moments, Daniel interacts with a lizard on the morgue wall, a creature that speaks French and asks complex questions.
Although it is an existential drama, the book holds a suspense that is only revealed in the last pages, related to the death of one of the characters.
How did you enter the world of writing and what motivated you to explore polyphonic and non-linear narratives in “Meninos Suspensos”?
It’s great talking to you, Luca. I can’t say that I entered the ‘writing world’ in an intentional way. I have always had the ‘intimate obligation’ to invent narratives and I have been professionally linked to literature in one way or another for over thirty-five years. “Meninos Suspensos” is a novel full of characters and each of them adds a parallel vision of the protagonist. I think that the polyphony in my works is closely linked to my horror of autofiction, this disease that has been destroying Brazilian Literature for some time now.
Did your trajectory in the performing arts influence your literary style in “Meninos Suspensos”? How has your theater experience shaped the way you write?
The influence is enormous. Dramaturgy was the first address of my fiction. My academic and artistic background is theater. I deal with many literary genres – before the novel “Meninos Suspensos”, I published the book of short stories “Bofetada e Ecstase” – and in the construction of my text, drama is visible, both tragic and comic, precisely in what I think is the greatest interest of the reader: the texture and exposure of the characters’ feelings, sensations and emotions within unusual situations.
In “Suspended Boys”, we see a multifaceted approach to human existential conflicts. What was the inspiration behind this variety of voices and experiences?
The action of “Meninos Suspensos” begins inside a hospital morgue, it is natural to think that the book will deal with the story of a dead man, death and mourning. And it’s exactly the opposite. The narrative is based on the man who is there to reevaluate his trajectory, the absurdity of the human condition, the formation and deformation of being. The existence of a real, or imaginary, being that questions and shows the way is based on the presence of a suspended gecko, the voices of a terrible reality.
The work brings moments of irony, social criticism and suspense. How did you balance these elements when constructing the narrative?
I really like Noir Literature: those deserted streets, nights full of internal hauntings, crimes. I use some mysterious elements in the supporting layers of “Meninos Suspensos”. Irony is essential, as is social criticism: without some resistance the novel becomes boring. I can’t say I’m self-taught – I studied literary creation and am an expert in FECA. But, I never participated in these new creative writing choices. I have my own rules and absolute freedom when transforming speeches. I can’t ‘hold’ the narrative (‘dam’ would be the right word), the river needs to flow.
The stream of consciousness is a striking feature in “Suspended Boys”. How did you use this technique to explore the characters’ emotions and thoughts?
It’s complicated, the first person is always challenging. As an author, I want the reader to participate intensely in the narrative, understanding and following the details without making reading tiring. So stream of consciousness and inner monologues offer many possibilities. I try to flow within the characters’ thoughts and then mix in revealing interior monologues.
“Meninos Suspensos” delves into deep and existential themes, despite containing elements of suspense. How did you plan this intersection between drama and suspense in the story?
I didn’t plan. I’m long-lived, it’s one of my characteristics. I tried to escape the mysteries, but the character grew up tormented by conflicts and tragic flaws.
The book has a non-linear structure, interspersing moments from the present and past memories. Why did you choose this approach to telling Daniel’s story?
I confess that it would be easier to develop the narrative following basic chronological patterns. I also confess that it would be impossible. I can’t manage beginnings, middles and ends without analyzing previous and conflicting circumstances. Daniel is an unlikable character, a mature man who has been shaped by dreams and tragedies. The reader needs to understand his reasons for believing in his unconventional attitudes.
There is a suspense that unfolds throughout the book, revealed only in the last few pages. How did you plan and construct this reveal to keep readers engaged until the end?
As I said: this mix between mystery and existential drama is part of my work. In the case of “Suspended Boys”, suspense is essential to direct the events: a priests’ college full of strict French priests; the same-sex affair between two novices; the lack of knowledge about psychiatric pathologies in the 1970s; the militant communist parents; the intense sexual relationship between a teenager and a neurotic mature woman; This is all part of the ladder of an announced fatality. The novel covers sixty years of the history of an erratic Brazil.
The characters face dilemmas and complex situations, reflecting the diversity of society. How did you develop these parallel and interconnected stories throughout the narrative?
It’s all part of Daniel’s memories and his sixties. The second protagonist: the gecko who speaks French and is pedantic and temperamental; raises the questions. I tried to work on the text, looking for less dry language. I’m tired of the dryness and lack of freedom in writing. Now there is a fashion for 90-page novels. When I started writing, 90 pages were enough for a simple story. In the ‘complex situations and parallel stories’ lies the grace of the narrative. I even invented a Catholic religious order that mixes several doctrines to give the necessary verisimilitude to the narrative.
What message or reflection do you hope readers take away after reading “Suspended Boys”?
The novel is a celebration of the freedom to be what one really is and the courage to be whole in the face of one’s own explosion. I also wanted to explore the character who forgives herself by analyzing her own character flaws.
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