Los Angeles is all over the Guadalajara International Book Fair, which opens Monday. As the first city to be made the fair's "guest of honor," Los Angeles will send (with the help of the National Endowment for the Humanities) a delegation of at least 100 writers, filmmakers, dancers, artists, actors, and "? of course "? politicians and their handlers. Mayor Villaraigosa is in Guadalajara now. The list of authors attending the fair is capacious. Whatever Los Angeles is and all of it written large. The guests include Chris Abani, Paul Beatty, Ray Bradbury, Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum, Aimee Bender, Greg Bedford, Wim de Wit, Mark Z. Danielewski, María Amparo Escandón, Alex Espinoza, B. H. Fairchild, Dagoberto Gilb, Jonathan Gold, Curtis Hanson, Brian Helgeland, Michael Jaime Becerra, Sam Hall Kaplan, David Kipen, Suzanne Lummis, Cheech Marin, Rubén Martínez, Ana Menendez, Yxta Maya Murray, Geoff Nicholson, Larry Niven, Marisela Norte, Laurie Ochoa, Mary Otis, Susan Patron, Jon Peede, Gary Phillips, Salvador Plascencia, Kwei Quartey , Richard Rayner, Josephine Reed, Nina Revoyr, Kim Stanley Robinson, Howard A. Rodman, Luis Rodriguez, Carolyn See, Marisa Silver, Jerry Stahl, Susan Straight, Jervey Tervalon, Scott Timberg, Hector Tobar, Michael Tolkin, David Ulin, Jose Luis Valenzuela, Marcos Villatoro, Bruce Wagner, J. Michael Walker, Sam Weller, Marianne Wiggins, and Rebecca Yeldham. I'm participating, too.
This crowd bears the conflicted image of Los Angeles into the world like a banner "? dazzling and noir, exuberant and borne down by fear, displaying a past and a future that are both uncertain. And we will be expected to speak about the hybridization of who we are as Angeleños to an audience that has a much different experience of the condition of mestizaje. What is in the mirror they are looking into? What is in ours?
Former Los Angeles Times writer Daniel Hernandez reflected on mestizo L.A. in Spain's El Pais newspaper earlier this week. He located Los Angeles on the border of fatherlands. He found our allegiances fluid. He hinted that all the easy dichotomies of the past "? even Mexican and American "? are broken. The categories of ethnicity and culture that offered meaning and consolation cannot hold back what we might become.