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Guadalajara, Los Angeles

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Angeleños looked pretty good in Guadalajara. The Italians (last year's guests) apparently didn't do as well, according to some FIL staff.The city's zone inside the entry hall of the Feria International del Libro de Guadalajara made a sort of compound under a fleet of wide, flattened, white, glowing orbs (minimalist motherships) on which a video projector cast movie and documentary clips. Surf music and folk rock played. Towers of white bookcases within a corral of white bookshelves and upholstered benches suggested a more vertical and whiter city than the one we have. Or maybe only Book Soup.

Just beyond on a low platform "? a splayed open custom car in green and gold plate (nearby, a lowrider bike and tricycle) surrounded by teenagers taking pictures. And at another entrance to the fair, a second lowrider sedan, in purple.

It's instructive to be semi-literate and monolingual (as I am) in a place of hyper-literacy, and all of the talk is in another language. I found Veronique de Turenne on Thursday morning in the lobby of the "little LA" the FIL organizers had planted in one of the fair's hotels. And with the help of her Spanish, a car and driver from the FIL and Sam Hall Kaplan and his wife, I grabbed a fast look at the Thursday market in Tonalá, a town subsumed by the city's spread, and the central quarter of the city with its 16th century buildings.

I also wandered into the night on foot with Yxta Maya Murray, Jenny Price, and Howard Rodman to find a taco place better than one recommended by Jonathan Gold and, we were told, only two blocks from the hotel "and three more blocks on the left, near a temple." We never found it. The wandering was instructive, too.

The literary part of Los Angeles-in-Guadalajara was the usual scrum of authors wise, authors kindly, authors an hour away from their last or next drink, authors smart and tart, and just authors. We were pleased with ourselves overall, like a high school academic decathlon team that had made the regional championships.

Outside "? outside the little world of writing "? LA musicians played, LA dancers danced, and LA art hung, glowed, and jittered in galleries throughout the city. It was quite a show, and I saw only a fraction of it. Which was only a fraction of the vastly larger thing that was the FIL for Spanish speakers. Most of the city of Guadalajara turned out nightly, it seemed, for the fun of being part of it.

What they might think of Los Angeles or Anglo Los Angeles writers would be hard to determine. Polite, mildly inquisitive, but reserved. Los Angeles is more than their periphery. One collage-age audience member pointed out (in Spanish) that what happens in Los Angeles eventually happens in Guadalajara. He commented soberly, but not with regret.

The image on this page was made by Flickr user Library of Congress. It was used under a Creative Commons license.

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