Da Gama, Cary Grant, and the Election of 1934 is the story of an election for mayor in a Massachusetts mill town in 1934 as seen through the eyes of a ten-year-old Portuguese boy, Seraphin. The incumbent, a Yankee, is challenged by candidates from five different ethnic groups-Irish, French Canadian, Polish, Portuguese, and Jewish. A portrait of each candidate is subtly drawn and we meet campaign workers like Teddy, who has enlisted to help secure a teaching position for his daughter, and Jimmy, a numbers runner who proudly passes out cards anuncing his appointment as Assistant Campaign Manager, North End. But the vel is more than just the story of an election. The specter of the Depression hovers over every scene. Laura, Seraphin's big sister, describes her job as a fruit-store clerk in every excruciatingly painful detail. And the allure of America is always present for Seraphin in his desire and longing to lead an American life. America also affects the remarkable Secundo B. Alves, the Portuguese candidate. Secundo's memories of the Azores are honest, authentic, and touching. But when he is defeated in the primary, he quickly bounces back as a supporter of the Frenchman's candidacy and rewrites his Vasco da Gama imagery. Secundo is showing the adaptability it takes to succeed in America. Da Gama, Cary Grant, and the Election of 1934 is a valuable historical document and an artistic triumph.
CHARLES REIS FELIX was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, one of four children to Portuguese immigrant parents. He attended local public schools and graduated from New Bedford High in 1941. He studied at the University of Michigan from 1941-43, at which time he was drafted into the U.S. Army. After the war he received a B.A. in history from Stanford University, and became an elementary school teacher. He is married, with two grown children, and lives with his wife Barbara in a cabin among the redwoods of Northern California. His first published book, Crossing the Sauer (Burford Books), an account of his experience as a combat infantryman in WWII, was hailed by Paul Fussell, author of The Great War and Modern Memory, as one of the most honest, unforgettable memoirs of the war I ve read. Felix published Through a Portagee Gate (U Massachusetts Dartmouth), a remarkably honest self-portrait and an endearing tribute to the author s father, a Portuguese immigrant cobbler who came to America in 1915.