THIS IS MY FOURTH WORK OF FICTION AND MY TWENTY-SECOND book. My novels do not have as their goal plots that merely entertain, amuse or arouse emotion. They all involve theses, whether psychological, psychiatric, sociological or philosophical. Their intent is to foment debate, to journey into the world of ideas and go beyond the borders of prejudice.
I have been writing continuously for over twenty-five years and publishing for slightly over eight years. Perhaps it is because of the voyages into the territory of the unfathomable world of the human mind. Sincerely, I do not merit this success. I am not an author who can produce texts easily. Striving to be an artisan of words, I continually write and rewrite every paragraph, day and night, as if I were a compulsive sculptor. You will find in this novel thoughts that were sculpted after having been rewritten ten or twenty times in my mind.
Some books come from the core of the intellect; others come from the viscera of emotion. The Dreamseller came from the depths of both. While writing it, I was bombarded with countless questions, I smiled a lot, and at the same time reconsidered our follies, or at least my own. This novel journeys through the realms of drama and satire, through the tragedy of those who have experienced loss and the ingenuousness of those who treat existence like a circus.
The main character is endowed with unprecedented daring. Nothing or no one succeeds in controlling his acts and his words, except his own conscience. He shouts to the four winds that modern society has become a vast global madhouse in which it is normal to be anxious and stressed, and abnormal to be healthy, at peace, serene. With his Socratic method he challenges the thoughts of all who meet him. He bombards his listeners with countless questions.
My dream is that this book will be read not only by adults but by young people as well, many of whom are becoming passive servants to the social system. Unenraptured by dreams and adventures, they have become, despite some exceptions, consumers of products and services, not of ideas. Nevertheless, consciously or unconsciously, they all want a life peppered with effervescent emotions, even as babies when they risk leaving the crib. But where in society can such emotions be found in abundance? Some pay large amounts of money to achieve them and yet live in anguish. Others desperately seek fame and renown but die in boredom. The characters in this novel reject the crushing social routine, yet experience high doses of adrenaline daily. Still, the “business” of selling dreams comes with a high price. That is why risks and windstorms are their companions.
© 2008 Augusto Cury
ON THAT MOST INSPIRING OF DAYS, A FRIDAY, AT FIVE PM, people usually in a hurry stopped and congregated at a downtown intersection of the great city. They stared upward, frozen at a corner of the Avenue of the Americas. A fire truck’s ear-splitting siren announced danger. An ambulance attempted to break through the jammed traffic to reach the building.
Firemen arrived quickly and cordoned off the area, keeping any onlookers from approaching the imposing San Pablo Building, which belonged to the Megasoft Group, one of the largest companies in the world. Curious pedestrians lined the streets and soon the area was buzzing with questions: What’s going on? Why all the commotion? Others simply pointed upward. On the twentieth floor, on the ledge of the stunning mirrored-glass building, stood a man ready to jump.
One more person hoped to cut short his brief existence. In a time steeped in sadness, more people died at their own hands than through war or murder. The numbers were astonishing to anyone who thought about them. Pleasure had become as wide as an ocean but as shallow as a pond. Many of the financially and intellectually privileged lived dull, empty lives, isolated in their world. Society afflicted the poor and the well-to-do equally.
The San Pablo jumper was a forty-year-old man with a well-chiseled face, strong eyebrows, taut skin and overgrown well-kept salt-and-pepper hair. His air of sophistication, though, sculpted through long years of study, was now reduced to dust. Of the five languages he spoke, none had helped him understand the language of his internal demons. Drowning in depression, he lived a meaningless life where nothing moved his spirit.
At that moment, only the end of his life seemed to matter. The monstrous phenomenon called death, which seemed so terrifying, was also a magical solution to his tortured soul. He looked upward, as if wishing to redeem himself for his last act, looked at the chasm below and took two quick, careless steps forward. The crowd gasped, fearing he was about to jump.
Some of the onlookers bit their fingernails under the mounting stress. Others didn’t dare blink for fear of missing a single detail. Human beings hate pain but have an extreme attraction to it; they detest misfortune and poverty, but such things seduce the eye. Even knowing that watching the outcome of that tragedy could cost them countless sleepless nights, they still could not look away. Meanwhile, drivers caught in the snarling traffic could not care less about the impending doom above, and leaned impatiently on their horns. Some stuck their heads out the windows and bellowed, “Jump and get it over with!”
The chief of police followed the firemen to the top of the building, each trying and failing to reason with the would-be jumper. Defeated, the authorities reached out to a renowned psychiatrist, who was hastily called to the scene. The doctor, too, attempted to gain the man’s trust, trying to make him see the consequences of his actions—but he couldn’t even get close. “One more step and I’ll jump!” the man shouted. He seemed certain that only death would finally silence his thoughts. Audience or no, his decision was made. His mind replayed his misfortunes, his frustrations, feeding the fever of his grief.
Meanwhile, down on the street below, a man tried to make his way through the crowd toward the building. He looked like just another curious on-looker, only more poorly dressed. He wore a wrinkled black blazer over a faded blue shirt, long-sleeved and stained in places. He wasn’t wearing a tie. And his wrinkled black pants looked like they hadn’t been washed in a week. His longish, uncombed hair was graying at the temples. His full beard had gone untrimmed for some time. Dry skin with prominent wrinkles around his eyes and in the folds of his face showed he sometimes slept out in the open. He was between thirty and forty, but seemed aged beyond his years.
His unstructured appearance contrasted with the delicacy of his gestures. He gently touched people’s shoulders, smiling as he passed. They couldn’t describe the sensation of being touched by him, but they quickly made room for him.
He approached the crime scene tape but was stopped from going any further. Disregarding the barrier, he stared into the eyes of those blocking his way and said flatly, “I need to go in. He’s waiting for me.”
The firemen looked him up and down and shook their heads. He looked more like someone who needed help rather than someone who could provide it.
“What’s your name?” they asked, without blinking.
“That doesn’t matter at a time like this,” the mysterious man answered firmly.
“Who called you here?” the firemen asked.
“You’ll find out. But if you keep me here any longer, you’ll have to prepare for another funeral,” he said, raising his eyes toward the top of the building.
The firemen were starting to get nervous and the mysterious man’s last phrase shook them. He hurried past them. “After all,” they thought, “maybe he’s an eccentric psychiatrist or a relative of the jumper.”
When he got to the top of the building, the stranger was stopped again, this time by the police chief.
“Hold it right there. You can’t be here,” adding that he should go back down at once.
But the man stared at them for a moment and answered calmly, “What do you mean I can’t be here? You were the ones who called me.”
The police chief looked at the psychiatrist who looked at the fire chief. They gestured to one another to find out who might have called this man. In that moment of confusion, the stranger hurried past the officer. There was no time to stop him. Any commotion could spook the jumper into carrying out his plan. They bit their lips and waited to see what happened.
This man who had come out of nowhere, uninvited and apparently unshaken by the possibility of this jumper plunging to his death, moved toward the ledge until he was dangerously close, about three feet away. Surprised, the jumper stammered, “Get away from me or I’ll kill myself!”
The stranger didn’t flinch. Nonchalantly, he sat down on the ledge, took a sandwich from his coat pocket, and started eating it with gusto. Between bites, he whistled a cheery tune.
The jumper didn’t know what to think. He took it as an insult and shouted:
“Stop that whistling! I’m going to jump.”
Annoyed, the stranger turned from his sandwich. “Could you not interrupt my dinner?” he said and took several more healthy bites of his meal, swinging his legs over the ledge. He then looked at the confused jumper and offered him a bite.
Looking on, the officials were stunned. The police chief’s lips trembled, the psychiatrist’s eyes widened and the fire chief could only furrow his brow.
The jumper just stared and thought, “This guy’s crazier than me.”
© 2008 Augusto Cury
The Dreamseller: The Calling
The Dreamseller: The Calling is moving, entertaining and ultimately inspiring. This book will make you laugh and cry, but above all, it will make you reflect on the purpose of your life, value others and become empowered to believe in your dreams.
Read an Excerpt
Reading Group Guide
Julio Cesar Lambert stands atop the great San Pablo Building in New York City, ready to leap to his death. A mysterious stranger appears out of the crowd and convinces Julio to not be afraid of life and more than that, to live it intensely: by selling dreams. Doubtful at first, Julio Cesar joins this mysterious man on a journey, collecting other dream sellers and helping strangers realize what has been missing in their lives. What follows is a remarkable parable exploring the major themes of modern existence as this wild band of misfits, lead by the Dreamseller himself, work to change the world.
TOPICS AND QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. From the onset of the novel, Julio Cesar is in big trouble. Identify the parts of his personality and of his life that would lead him to consider suicide. What were your first impressions of him, as a character? How does this impression change throughout the course of the novel?
2. The Dreamseller says to Julio Cesar as he is standing by the ledge, “You’r see more