Jorge Amado: Completa verdade sobre as discutudas aventuras do Comandante Vasco Moscoso de Aragão, capitão de longo curso (Home is the Sailor)
A lovely shaggy dog story from Amado shows that he has a great sense of humour and does not always need to be serious. Periperi is a suburb of Bahia. One day, a new resident arrives – Captain Vasco Moscoso de Aragão. Who is he? He reveals himself to be a retired naval captain and soon has the town entranced with his stories of daring sea journeys and lost loves. Everyone is fascinated, except for Chico Pacheco, the now supplanted town storyteller. Chico suspects that the Captain is not who he seems to be and determines to find out the truth. When he reveals the truth, few people believe him.
Cut to a flashback and the real story of the Captain. His parents died young and he is brought up by his grandfather, owner of a successful department store. Young Vasco, however, is more interested in wine, women and song than commerce and is clearly not cut out for a career in commerce. Accordingly, when he dies, his grandfather leaves him a lot of stock in the company but little authority, which is fine by Vasco. However, there is one thing that others have that he lacks – a title. He did not go to university and was not in the military. However, his friend the harbourmaster has a solution. All he has to do is passed the marine exam and he will become a captain. With some study and a lot of help from his friends, he passes the exam, though he has never set foot on a ship. He even buys a decoration from the Portuguese government. Now he is happy.
Eventually, his friends die or move on and his fortune – the result of riotous living – dwindles. When all is settled, he has enough to live on quietly but not ostentatiously, so he retires to Periperi. This is where we came in. However, there is a twist. A ship arrives in the port but its captain has died. Only a registered captain can assume command, indeed, is legally obliged to assume command and there is only one registered captain available. He cannot refuse. Fortunately, everything proceeds smoothly, as he leaves maritime matters to the crew and concentrates on the social issues, which he manages very well. However, the crew suspect he is a phony and trick him into to making a maritime decision. Initially, it looks as though he has made a really stupid decision but it all turns out well in the end and we are left with a very amusing story.
First published 1961 by Livraria Martins
First published in English 1964 by Alfred A Knopf
Translated by Harriet de Orís