Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Zorro Is in the Building

Tuesday morning was the first day of the bookfair´s Jornadas profesionales for librarian, publishers, and bookdealers. Angela, Adán and I shared a cab over to La Rural and got our credentials and bookfair bag in due time. As we finished, Jorge Gutiérrez came up so we were able to express our thanks for the bookfair´s continued willingness to host US librarians. Adán made introductions and I remember Jorge from past fairs. He smiled and remarked how he remembered my name and I assumed he meant because it`s not a Romance language based set of appellations ending in vowels, or at least because Williams is not too foreign in a country that saw its share of British and Welsh immigrants. However, it turns out he associates my name with Guy Williams of Disney Zorro fame (or head of the Robinson family on Lost in Space for those who´re a little younger)! I watched my share of Zorro episodes on TV as a child and remembered being amazed to learn that when Guy Williams passed away in 1989 he was living in Argentina (Recoleta per IMDB). Evidently he was born Armand Catalano in 1924 in New York to Italian parents who came there from Argentina. He travelled to Argentina in 1973 and liked the country and found he had a fan base there so he moved there in the early 1980s. He´s buried in the US.
Many things at the bookfair looked the same, the Centro Naval´s stand is always in the same corner but I couldn´t help noticing the Hermana Bernarda monopoloy on cookbooks and video seems to have been taken over by Doña Patrona whose photo on the books suggests a 1960´s era Betty Crocker. Is the Doña real or not? Further investigation awaits. Another change in the four years since my last bookfair is the notable absence of pens and other swag. Probably evidence of everyone´s economic struggles.
This first day it appeared my university credit card was going to be declined for a purchase and I´ve realized some of the publishers aren´t stocking the titles I saw online that fit in my purchasing plan. Plan B goes into effect where I´ll go through the list of publishers who indicate they specialize in journalism titles and visit those stands. I´d started some preliminary grouping of them according to location by pabellón but only did a small portion of the list before leaving Miami. If you haven´t been here, then you might not realize the bookfair is spread out over a good deal of real estate. The building is divided into zones (called pabellonespavillions) with banners indicating streets (one direction runs odd numbers, the other even) and the stands have individual numbers for identification. Some publishers stands are huge and you can´t help but see them. Some small stands stand out with a distinct display (I believe there´s an award given for best stand) and others stand alone, tiny and indiscript but you don´t want to pass them by in case they hold real treasures. Sometimes I wish I had inline skates or wheelie shoes to get around. I haven´t seen any Segways but the congestion would probably make them too dangerous!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Back in Buenos Aires

My last visit to the Buenos Aires Feria de Libros was in 2008. My Title VI budget this year is designated for FIU´s Spanish Language Journalism major which has not gotten much library support. As I was looking into program needs, I realized coming to the bookfair would be a good approach!

Courtesy of the FIU Latin American & Caribbean Center, I was able to use one of their complimentary tickets from TAM Airlines. I left Miami on an 11am flight, arrived in São Paulo around 8pm for a 10:45pm connecting flight to Buenos Aires. I expected to arrive in SP at 1:30 in the morning. Alas, for various reasons, our flight took off an hour late. Once I got through immigration (and didn`t know until I had to pay it right there about Argentina`s new $140.00 visa), getting my bag, and going through the customs x-ray, and then got a cab to the hotel, I was able to go to bed at 4:50am. Not surprisingly, I slept until 1:30 that afternoon.

We`re back at the NH Florida but my ro0m looked onto an interior courtyard and was about as bright as a tomb (I´ve started rereading Edgar Allan Poe), felt very small, and the TV didn`t work. I asked at the desk to change, they advised I´d have to wait until the 3pm checkout to see what would be available. I had lunch in the hotel dining room and then found I could move to the 7th floor overlooking Tres Sargentos street and the Inversiones Federales building as I had in 2004. To the left I can also look to see the long-shuttered Harrod`s. I remain intrigued that you can see some open windows on its top floors.

Once moved into the new digs, I went out to buy water for the room and coffee for Don. Adán Griego and Angela Carreño are also staying here so I sent out an e-mail seeing who might want to get together for dinner. Angela called me so we went across the street and shared pizza and salad. A final check of e-mail for the evening brought a message from Hortensia Calvo that she´s also here for the bookfair but at a different NH location. Phil MacLeod is also staying at a different NH. My first day in Buenos Aires didn`t quite go as planned but it`s still good to be here.