I went to the first and in just over three decades I only missed five. All this began with a flattened earth floor and plastic tents or flimsy fabric. Books, books, books … and authors. Live. I started to get to see them up close and steal autographs in notebooks or napkins and Gabo just signed in books and I remember a laugh by Juan Marsé and a night that does not end yet with Juan José Arreola and a post-dinner chair between José Luis Martínes and Ali Chumacero ; In a few rounds, Don Luis González, a guide, pointing to books on the thousands of shelves and the returns became a problem of overweight and also of excesses: the week of the lists slowly became the week of recognizing friends and detecting the cyclical list of frauds, plagiaries and two faces, the week of the desmadre and the train of Tequila, the one of the prizes and awarded, the new editions, the books to come, the young readers, the thousand young people in a room, the astonished look of foreigners, the growing room of business, the rumor of electronic books and their arrival on phone screens, the food of each guest country of honor and the authors who came in redilla to be heard in their own culture, the hostesses in each hall, the varied stands and then, the fusion in consortiums, the thousands and thousands of children who come to play and, therefore, read; the designers and their covers, the dance of fine typography and the bad taste of so many strident covers, bestsellers, the longsellers, the ephemeral triumphs, the flash of the mat, the classic untouchable, the nights of music in the atrium, the author who fills the theaters and the poet who reads alone, the lady who saves all year to buy her endearing books and the clerk who comes running, almost to close, to find an erotic novel; the castaway of the Fair that stays locked up every year, former bookkeeper of a large publishing house, subsists with water from the taps and eating loose papers that are stripped of the copies returned books. Each year, he resuscitates disheveled in the middle of the inauguration ceremony, where the immortal on duty is rewarded, in the midst of a gale of long speeches and the week is in fact the publishing year of the entire world where each author who can announce what is coming of spring and every writer of truth, recapitulates what is written throughout the year.
Guadalajara International Book Fair. FIL. The immense festival with which closes the year of books and opens the new dawn. The presentations of exactly 50 minutes and the conferences that can be extended, the ecumenical meetings, the alliance of storytellers, the visiting authors, the local bards, the school girls and the thousands of anonymous visitors that come from all over Mexico and the world to celebrate the book of years ago, the surprise title, the secular revelation, the rare unpublished, the scanty copy of a legendary book, the words of the authors before the microphone and the parties in huddle, the gangs that are coming, the look of the gray hair, the young editor who arrives with the first copy of his seal and the silence for the absent ones … all of ink, adrenaline and commotion. A hug for Marisol and all the team of archangels that make it possible for FIL to arrive again this year, now that from a distance it seems that I do not sleep for walking precisely celebrating the thousand and one stories that unite us.