This book is the product of the tense yet fruitful encounter between two
areas of Brazil that were invented, and are often experienced, as antago-
nistic and mutually exclusive. I myself am also such a product, physically
and intellectually. My father migrated from the Northeast to the large
city of São Paulo in the Southeast, where, during an afternoon mass in
1954, he met a local girl, and they married soon after. Four years later, my
mother left the city to accompany him back to his native region. I grew
up feeling deeply the diff erences that seemed to separate my parents, a
sort of implacable distance that was just barely resolved by the love that
united all of us. When I grew older I determined to nish my academic
studies in São Paulo, a place I seemed to know through a sort of aff ective
geography my mother had sketched many times as she recalled her early
life, and her friends and family she had left there. While still small, in
her lap, I had traveled with her in her memory along the Chá Viaduct,
down the Direita Road, and to the Prestes Maia Gallery, where she had
idled happy Sundays away in the easy conversation and fl irtations of
youth. We went there together, in 1968: a trip of wonder for me. The city
dazzled and overwhelmed; its din was numbing. I sought the places and
spaces I had imagined over so many storytellings, the narrated geogra-
phy of my mother’s early life. Much that I saw and heard was utterly dif-
ferent than I expected, and yet there were still everywhere familiar traces
(even in the cast of light, or the smells) of the city I had dreamed of.
Upon completing my master’s in Paraíba, I resolved to undertake my
own personal, intellectual migration to São Paulo— more specifi cally, to
the state university at Campinas. There I occasionally sensed that I was
regarded as, if not quite an interloper, someone far from where the natu-
ral order indicated he belonged. Too many times I endured the comment
“But you don’t look like a northeasterner!” It is the personal nature of
this journey and this book that leads me to begin here by acknowledging
my parents and my professors at unicamp, who facilitated the encoun-
ter between the Northeast and São Paulo (as the industrial axis of the
Southeast) that is in my dna, in my sentiments, and in my thinking. This
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