Many thinks to Redbook Magazine for featuring THE AIR YOU BREATHE in their September issue’s book page! Redbook says: “If you like your fictional friendships cinematically devoted and rocky, Frances de Pontes Peebles’s The Air You Breathe is gold.”
So excited to share this review just in from NPR! Reviewer Lily Meyer declares that the “historical epic” is a “glorious, glittery saga of friendship and loss” and admits that it may have ousted her former favorite beach read from its top spot, as it offers “murder, extortion, Hollywood glamor, the entire story of samba, and, of course, sexual longing and an exceptional cast of characters.” She agrees with previous critics, noting the plot’s “total interconnectedness, the likes of which I last found in Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend.”
She has a complaint, and I understand where she is coming from, saying how “the writing, often perfect, can get a bit too glittery,” maybe even corny at times. But what I love about this criticism is that she understands that, ultimately, this stems from the narrator’s sincerity and her deep vulnerability. (And my own flaw as a writer, too, but I’m working to be better. Always striving to be a better writer, and critiques like this help me.)
The reviewer concludes: “who wants to read a restrained novel about a fictional Carmen Miranda? For what possible reason would somebody write a spare, symbolic tale about a woman who wears neck-grazing rhinestone earrings shaped like planes? I wouldn't read that book. I read The Air You Breathe in two nights. (One might say I inhaled it.) Not only does it suit the novel to be corny, its corniness makes it complete…More novels should be sincere. More novels should risk too-big claims, or take one plot turn too many. The Air You Breathe is genuinely exciting to watch.” She concludes that the novel is her “new gold standard now.”
Big thanks to PEOPLE for picking THE AIR YOU BREATHE as their Book of the Week!
Thank you to LAMBDA Literary for this very generous review. This one means the world to me. “An absolute masterpiece…beautifully rendered…THE AIR YOU BREATHE manages to weave together the delicious tales of interpersonal relationships with the art of music making, while never losing sight of its reader/audience…Peebles is a master at sustaining dramatic tension, a wizard with intrigue and language, and a skilled curator of intimacy…Even more challenging is the ability to be able to create unapologetic antiheroes, which Peebles excels at…The tension created by these elements—the sociopolitical context, the drama of interpersonal relationships and queerness, and the high-stakes nature of subsisting off art—make a masterful book, sure to enthrall from beginning to end.” –Lambda Literary
ONE MORE DAY until the book comes out! Meanwhile, thank you KMUW NPR Station for this amazing new review: "While The Air You Breathe is a brilliant portrayal of female friendship, equally brilliant are Peebles’ descriptions of the soulful step-by-step rhythm of whipped-up samba musicians, the dank back rooms & makeshift stages of boozy clubs in Rio, how the world magically retreats when a bedazzled singer steps into view, erupting in song, and finally the celluloid seduction of Hollywood studios. This is a remarkable and deeply felt tale of the price of ambition and fame." Listen to the full review here.
So happy that Catapult published my essay about Brazil’s gay, black icon Madame Satã. He’s an incredible figure in Brazilian history and deserves to be widely known. (I created a fictionalized version of him in my novel, but this essay chronicles his real life story.)
Read my interview with David Rolland for Miami New Times, in which we discuss the writing process, character inspiration, and how Miami helped me be a writer.
"There's a weirdness from growing up in Miami that lends toward storytelling. Everyone there comes from somewhere else. It made me want to know people's stories."