For this week’s edition of Feature Friday, we introduce you to Bridge Retakes, the debut novel by Winnipeg-based writer Angela Lopes. In it, Ze, a Bahian man, and Phila, a Brazilian-Canadian woman, meet on an online dating site. They come from very different worlds—geographically, economically, religiously—and yet, their connection is undeniable. But all the while, issues of money, class, gender, and corruption threaten to tear them apart. Of Bridge Retakes, Juliana Spahr writes “This is the story of Phila + Ze, of Canada + Brazil. And like all great love stories it charts the emotions around desire, all its sweats and confusions. And it does this beautifully.”
Lopes’ debut has been in the making for a long while. In 2015, Lemon Hound published an early snippet of the work, back when the project was tentatively titled, The Bridge Communicates.
“My foot promenades palpitates no velleities, rather a kissing nook. The landscape brought me back to you. Our history and history as such. In 1955 this bridge was built. It was the birth of my father. And we attached ourselves to Sibyl to persist. We attached ourselves to scars, lines, hang nails, stains and scoff marks. You thought that was the ending, it was the middle that broke us. And this bridge must hold the uncaused grip of its cause. Must purge the network check overflow of accident. Vacate the negation from its little mouth. We used to see as landscapes while circumventing potholes, emboldening antiquity’s gossip. Our gossip as repetition, as supreme form coveting what we apprehend. Omit think before you speak, try thinking, speaking, moving concomitantly. Plotinus reminds us: love is like a goad; it is without resource in itself. A word and a word back. “
Bridge Retakes is a whirlwind millennial tale of love and family and the distances that people will (or won’t) go to secure what they want. Today, we’re pleased to bring you an excerpt from this stunning novel for your Friday reading pleasure.
Excerpt from Bridge Retakes
Phila is out in the state capital São Paulo, Brazil, to help her cousin with her beauty salon. Phila loves her family and friends in Brazil, plus she loves the food, forró and sertanejo music, and the land. She goes to Brazil at least one time every year. This time, Phila thought she’d try out a local dating site. On this dating site she met Zé. Zé posted photos of himself in his car, at his sister’s beauty salon and after one of his soccer games. Zé works in a photo lab in São Paulo. Phila works three different jobs in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: editing theses, cleaning and telemarketing. Her father and mother were born in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil. Phila was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Zé was born in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. He still lives with his mother and siblings, in a better favela in São Paulo. Zé’s family is composed of devout Catholics with robust African traditions embedded in their daily interactions. He is extremely close to his siblings and mother. Phila’s parents were raised by Phila’s grandmother on her father’s side and both grandparents on her mother’s side. Both Phila’s mother and father came from lower middle-class families. All the money they had got invested into learning English. Her mother and father met in English school at the ages of twenty-one and twenty-three. After two years of study, each working three jobs and getting married, they immigrated to Vancouver. Phila was born a year after they landed in Vancouver. Three siblings followed.
Phila decided to never forget where her parents came from, their economic struggles and spiritual suffering. Phila has little desire to buy anything, and all her savings from work go into her journeys to Brazil. She still lives with her parents in a middle-class suburb in Winnipeg. Zé has always dreamed of leaving Brazil. Zé has never ever left Brazil. He often thinks of it as a trash can. What the First World can give his family and him is economic stability, something they only get in month-long spurts, maybe two per year – a feeling of stability. Zé believes if he were ever to move to Canada to work, he could drastically improve his family’s economic situation and help provide more opportunities for careers for his siblings. In São Paulo, Zé makes just enough to help out his family and finally he bought his very first car. To be approved for a Canadian tourist visa, he should own a home, have a certain amount of money in the bank, own a car and have a family that he could return home to. He only has the family and car aspects covered.
Order your copy of Bridge Retakes here.
Winnipeg-based Angela Lopes is a writer, and editor, and academic tutor of writing and philosophy. She divides her time between São Paulo, Brazil and Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she is an active member in the arts scene and recently worked with the Winnipeg Arts Council’s Creative Placemaking Challenge—an art installation project displayed in the alleys of the city’s West Exchange District. Lopes’s essays and poems have appeared in an array of publications. Bridge Retakes is her first novel.