Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bukowski, La Chulanga, y Vampiros

 Café Literario, Pabellón Los Angeles:
Homenaje a Charles Bukowski

I only got to experience the last 15 minutes of this session because I opted to attend "Todo, menos la historia...:La no ficción en L.A.", which was a panel discussion with Luis Rodriguez, Richard Rayner, J. Michael Walter, and Rubén Martínez, which I quite enjoyed as each of these writers had very different but insightful things to say about the Los Angeles that appears in their nonfiction.

And yet I open this post with Bukowski because when I made my way over to his homage, it was standing-room only (though you don't get that impression from this photo), with barely any room to squeeze in. There were probably, oh, 150 people present, whereas last night at Salvador Plasencia's session, there were maybe 50 people.

The Q & A session with the public was getting under way, and one of the first audience members to speak made a comment, something to the tune of (in Spanish): "The fact that this session has been held in this rather small room is evidence that Bukowski is still viewed with suspicion by the establishment, in this case the organizers of this Fair." I have to confess that I'm not overly familiar with his work, and don't have strong opinions about it. And yet I couldn't help but take note and marvel at this "Bukowski phenomena" here in Mexico.


Some numbers on the Guadalajara International Book Fair:

Over 17,000 industry professionals

Over half a million visitors

1,900 publishing houses from 40 countries

Over 600 activities throughout nine days of culture, trade, and books.

And so I decided to wander a bit more today and the scale seemed almost too much to take in. But it didn't take long for me to gravitate into a display area of a letterpress workshop to handle their wares. They're called Taller Ditoria and the first paragraph of their history statement reads:

Taller Ditoria was founded in 1995 by a small group of poets and artists. We set up our own printing press and letterpress type and equipment. From its beginning, the purpose of Ditoria has been to use the craft of letterpress, to preserve the traditional fine arts of the book, and to combine these with a contemporary, experimental approach to the composition of both poetry and narrative. Ditoria has published the work of eminent authors as well as emerging writers. Yet we always try to adhere to high standards of writing and design. We aim to produce unique, fine press books. In recent years Ditoria has become an important presence in the cultural landscape of México.

I ended up purchasing # 160 of 200 of a limited edition 59-page book called Acúfenos by Mónica de la Torre

I was also able to track down what I had set out to find: Los Vampiros de Whittier Boulevard by Juan Felipe Herrera. Gabriela Jauregui's co-editor is Regina Lira, and the translator of this 270 page selection is Santiago Román. Here is the first paragraph of Jauregui's "Foreword/Ante-Palabra":

"Whittier Boulevard: el comienzo y el final. El eje central del movimiento chicano, la avenida del este de Los Angeles que enmarca este libro. Desde aquí, Juan Felipe Herrera nos invita a pensar en un mundo más allá de las fronteras. Nos traza los caminos que lo han llevado a explorar la consciencia de la diferencia a través de una reflexión sobre las tensiones sociales del mundo contemporáneo con humor, frescura, elegancia y profunda humanidad." 


His name was J. Jesús Cueva Pelayo. He looked to be a gentleman in his mid to late 60s. He got around with the aid of a walker that had plastic bags hanging from it that were filling with books. He was a professor at the Instituto Tecnológico de Tijuana. At first I thought he had a question about a particular book he was looking for at the LA Pavillion, but it soon became clear that he was an ardent bibliofile who wanted to talk shop and I was happy to oblige. By the end of our 40 minute chat, he was handing me ALAMAR: Antologia 1997 - 2007 (Instituto Tecnológico de Tijuana--Taller de Literatura, 2007), a volume of poetry with 62 contributors, all of them his students at the tech school where teaches journalism and literature. He was one of three co-editors. I felt honored and touched: 

"Solo traje un ejemplar de este libro para regalárselo a alguién. Es para tí."


Her name was Nora Emilia and I met her yesterday. About fifteen minutes into our chat, I starting thinking that she was a character out of a Pedro Almodovar movie. Her book, published by Plaza Janés, a respectable house with branches in Spain and Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries, was called, La Chulanga: Una mujer sin pudores registrados. It was a collection of her columns, pieces she writes for a weekly in "de-efe," she said. She was reading my mind when she said:

"Mi obra es como Sex and the City, pero más humano"



We'll wind down with some more pics from the FIL's photo gallery for today:




1 comment:

Sarah Browning said...

Bukowski is HUGE in Italy too - translations in every bookstore I went to all over the country. What gives?