Thursday, December 4, 2014


To the Feria Internacional de Libro in Guadalajara... or FIL for short, the second largest book fair in the world. I'm here with a number of colleagues (from Mexico City and London) to experience first hand what it's like to be Country of Honour, which the UK will be this time next year.   
It is, indeed, huge. 750,000 visitors over 9 days, 2,000 publishing companies, 2,000 registered journalists etc. So we wandered around the expo building, soaking it all up, had meetings with the organizers, visited stands and attended talks. One of them was by David Byrne, in conversation with Fernando Romero (the architect who's working with Norman Foster on the new Mexico City airport) about Byrne's excellent book How Music Works which I read last summer. But it was disappointing. The dialogue didn't flow and the questions at the end were trite. Byrne was fun though. 
But possibly the most interesting event of the day was seeing an exhibition about the life & work of Argentinian writer Julio Cortazar (1914-84). Shamefully I know very little about him, other than he wrote a short story called Blow-Up which inspired Antonioni's 1966 film. I now know a fair bit more, but what really struck me was the creative thinking that went into the exhibition design. A really imaginative installation.
Here he is, fag in mouth (just like Serge Gainsbourg), looking every bit the Left Bank '60s intellectual. He lived most of his life in Paris. There were very few photographs in the exhibition which didn't show him smoking. Today it would be distinctly frowned upon.

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