Guadalajara’s International Book Fair (FIL) is gargantuan and impressive, like the Death Star, and an object lesson on the deleterious effect an excess of options can have on the human nervous system.
In fact, unless you’re in the habit of reading, say, CIA intelligence briefings or homicide department police reports, browsing the limitless labyrinth of pressed wood pulp which occupies the Expo Guadalajara event center every year exerts an influence upon one’s sanity that is the polar opposite of that which exerts a book.
However, if you can accept the fact that book fairs of this sort have little to do with reading and everything to do with commerce - and if you can amicably submit to massive sensory overload - then Guadalajara’s annual book fair will prove entertaining and even instructive, especially when it comes to its many conferences, which you can scout out beforehand online to avoid option anxiety. They cover everything from politics to smell, and range from intimate talks on niche subjects to Klieg-lit happenings attended by hundreds of people.
The week’s blockbuster draw was Paul Auster, an acclaimed writer whose work is as inextricably tied to New York City as that of the Ramones.
Auster spent his first evening, Sunday, November 26, pontificating eloquently in his even, thoughtful baritone upon the relationship between French and American poetry and prose in the late-19th and early 20th Century, concentrating in particular on Baltimore master of the macabre Edgar Allen Poe. Loved by the French but dismissed by his fellow countrymen, Poe was essentially the Jerry Lewis of his day, to hear Auster tell it.