Monday, October 11, 2010

Frankfurt Book Fair: The last day...

drained of most of its authors, booksellers, even perhaps public visitors is the Frankfurt Book Festival on its last day. It is, therefore, a bargain-hunter's wet dream, should that bargain-hunter be seeking to carry more weighty fiction items home with her than she arrived with!!!

My exciting finds include:
from Coffee House Press
Laird Hunt's Ray of the Star,
Aaron Michael Morales' Drowning Tuscon,
Karen Tei Yamishita's I Hotel --a 613 page tomb! (click the title not only to be linked to the book at coffee house, but also to read an interview with the author, Yamishita!)
from the Random House and Vintage massive stand, which was selling off all their displays, I got half-off copies of
The Ministry of Special Cases a novel by Nathan Englander,
Unaccustomed Earth stories by Jhumpa Lahiri,
Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood
Summertime by J.M. Coetzee
I also picked up an exciting novel with fun visuals in the margins, linked to the character who is a map-maker: The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen--a book which was shortlisted for the Guardian's First Book Award.
I was also given a Japanese translation into French by the fabulous Japanese Literature Publishing Project (JLPP: Ryûnosuke Akutagawa's Une Vague Inquiétude, by the publisher éditions du Rocher
Lastly, for the everlasting Buffy fan in me, I found Dark Horse comics, as well as their distributor, and between them and Amal's astounding bargaining I ended up with Buffy, Season 8 by Joss Whedon (a comic book series) in its entirety for a great price!

So, how did this little book-purchasing adventure come to be?
Amal--the owner of The Book Corner, Mulhouse's finest English bookshop ( which also carries a wide selection of French reads, asked me whether I wanted to go to Frankfurt with her for the festival. We both agreed to get up at an unholy hour on a Sunday to head off around 6am for Frankfurt--approximately a 3 hour drive from here. Before heading out of town in her green car, we stopped off at an open bakery and got rasberry and also cinamon croissants. Then we turned out of town into a dark and misty morning, half-awake and dreaming of the startrek-era teleportation machines we so wish existed! In fact, no, the road trip was half the fun--and half the day, too!!!! We had an excellent time with chattering along nonstop (mostly me, trying to keep me, or both of us, awake!) One of the things en route that I thought funny were the truck stop treats. Yes, if you are feeling a hankering for hotdogs, the pit stops can offer you both pickeled in a jar versions or else the XXL roll option--which is what we Americans call pigs in a blanket!
Once we arrived, we were shuttled over into a dauntingly large open glassed space where we consulted our maps of the many interlinked buildings and floors of buildings (see photo of Amel at the left with her map). We started off where all the American publishers were, which meant that I bought tons of books then came to a point just after lunch where I thought "I can go no further": and confided my treasures to a cloak-room while I perused the rest of the fair as a spectator--not buying anything new, at times because I could not read the many languages the books were written in, at times because the gorgeous antiques books were WAY outta my price range. But the most fabulous thing was to be accidently stumbled across in the antique book tent: The 19th Century Rare Book Shop, from MD. There, in their glass cabinet, sat a gorgeous first edition of Ulysses, with its green cover and its nubby never to be cut open pages, on sale for around 17000e. And on the shelf above this first edition by James Joyce sat another stunning first edition--Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven, in a mini hardbound edition--simply precious!!!!
In fact, as we moved deeper into the heart of the festival, which is in buildings surrounding a sort of square where people sat in lines along a fountain taking in a little fresh air or listening to readings or having a snack, the population seemed to be growing. By mid-afternoon we had reached the German only section, where masses still milled up and down the festival hall allées, buying or consulting books, publishers, e-tools, or meeting with potential agents for their books. Some people--like me--looked ready to crash, others actually napped in corners on couches, and a "militia massage" group was giving out free chair massages (the line was, alas, too long for that). Exhausted and worded out, Amal and I decided it was time to go hit the road of return to France. I collected up my books and we hit the buses then the road, with only one tiny loop-de-loop to get correctly onto the autoroute towards Mulhouse. By 10pm, we were back from our day out, and ready to drop into bed--with a good book!

1 comment:

George Vance said...

on the road with books and truckstop snacks, paradise regained!