In “The Art of Walking in the Streets of Rio de Janeiro” by the Brazilian writer Rubem Fonseca, the protagonist, Augusto, quits the water and sewage department in order to write a book. Augusto’s peripatetic literary project gives him a kind of imaginative power with which he hopes to achieve "a greater communion" with the city. This essay explores the possibility that, rather than literary production, public works—specifically, the management of water and sewage—might allow for the greater communion that Augusto claims to desire.


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