Uncollectible | Valter Hugo Mãe

Tuesday, October 29, 2019
What about the jewels that live outside Sala Gemma? An inspiring conversation about books with the most prominent personalities of the contemporary Portuguese culture.

The Secret of Terror Castle, by Alfred Hitchcock, Lunário, by Al Berto, and The Metamorphosis, by Kafka, are some of Valter Hugo Mãe’s most precious books. These are the gems of a writer that is, himself, already considered a literary gem in the city of Porto, Portugal and the rest of the world.

Livraria Lello: Do you keep any special book in your library? A book with a special and value? How did it touch you as a writer?

Valter Hugo Mãe: Among the books, I keep as treasure is the first book I ever bought – I was only ten years old when I got The Secret of Terror Castle, by Alfred Hitchcock. It was a turning point in my life. Something in the cover captured my attention. After reading it, I understood that reality needed to be made of fantasy. I still have that book and it’s one of the most precious titles that sits on my library.

I also have a precious edition of Al Berto’s Lunário, a book that he sent me himself with a special and poetic dedication, that really moved me at that time, and still does; books signed by José Saramago and also by Eduardo Lourenço; several editions of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis – a masterpiece that changed a lot of things in my life. The image of myself as a future writer was deeply influenced by Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, and I bought some editions on my travels.

I also keep a lot of poetry, that I’ve been proudly publishing throughout the years. Among these books, the complete works of Daniel Faria, Isabel de Sá and Inês Lourenço stand out… I care deeply for a lot of the books I have the chance to coordinate the edition and they have a special place on my shelves.

After so many years – I’m 48 years old, an age I never thought I would get to… I used to think people with this age were old and almost over and done… Now I understand that everything we read piles up enormously and the bonds we create with books are stronger by the day. They are more possessive and pleasurable – even when I don’t open or read them every day. The simple fact of knowing they’re there influences profoundly my happiness. 
Maybe one day I might show my library in a different way. For now, it can live on these few words.


Photography Credits: Nelson d'Aires

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