DEPICTION OF HELL IN A CONSTRUCTION PROJECT IN THE AMAZON, September 8, 2004
This is Marcio Souza's most famous book, in which he creates a romance out of the construction project of the Madeira-Mamoré railway, built in the Amazon in the early 20th century.
Marcio describes in vivid detail the different stories of people somehow connected to the railway, such as the American builders that had worked on the Panama Canal, German and Barbadian low wage, violent workers, an American idealist doctor, the powerful interests behind the building of the railroad both in Brazilian politics and American capitalism. Souza emplys a style reminiscent of Emile Zola in that he appeals to naturalism to describe people's feelings and often uses metaphors of a woman's intimate parts to describe the situation fo the railroad and the main engine, Mad Maria, that is testing the railway.
It is interesting to read the book and then visit the remaining parts of the railway. There are many leftover bridges along the Madeira river that can be visited, and even an engine can be seen in the town of Abunã, which the townspeople say is Mad Maria.
It is a very nice and quick read, but not for those that shy away from violence or darkness. Reminded me a bit of Heart of Darkness, though Mad Maria is written in a much more crude, aggressive style. I highly recommend it, espcially if you will be travelling to the Amazon, as a way to understand the difficulties development has faced in the region.