What is a Crônica?

Sometimes the books choose you. When I first came to Brazil, I picked up a book of short stories, a collection of crônicas .  Crônicas are a genre of short stories, popular and published widely in the Brazilian press in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

“The crônica is a genre that is related to the idea of time and consists of a description of the details of daily life in literary, abstract language. The origins of the word crônica are greek, from chronos (time), and it is for this reason that this type of text is characterized by its contemporary nature.  The crônica can be classified in various ways: lyrical, in which the author tells a story with nostalgia and sentimentalism; comedic, in which the author jokes with and about daily life; the crônica-essay, in which the cronist, ironically, offers a critique about what is happening within the social-political realm; philosphical, with reflections about an incident or event; and journalistic, which describes the details of news or events that can be criminal, political, sporting, etc.”   [Source, Marina Cabral, Portugese Literature and Language Specialist, translated  from the original Portuguese which can be found here]

As newspapers recede on the literary horizon, crônicas are a dying art form.  They delighted audiences in the days that newspapers were a thing to savor and an editorial didn’t have to have a key argument it could just entertain.  Today, you do not see crônicas in Brazilian newspapers or magazines.  They are only found in library collections, stale and collecting dust between bindings.  Their authors are probably mostly deceased and rolling in their graves to see the work that they churned out for a deadline now immortalized for the scrutiny of endless future generations.

To me, crônicas are very similar in format to the blog.  Short in length, dense in content, written to entertain the reader, meant to breathe life into a context and then fade from memory.  Maybe crônicas aren’t dead, they’re merely renamed; resurrected by a new audience and set of authors unaware of their legacy.

That book came to me just as the first zygotes of story ideas were beginning to emerge out of my adventures.  These stories are my crônicas–fleeting, contemporary, entertainment for my readers, a way to describe my daily world and my experiences.  I hope you enjoy.

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