Sunday 12 October 2014

Things I Loved at the Book Fair

There are some things I hate with a passion about book fairs, particularly at Frankfurt, which is so planet-sized it draws all sorts of satellites into its orbit. More on one particular personal horribleness in a moment. But there are also things that make me smile for half an hour at a time. Here are some of those things:

Walking around the German halls and spotting translators and writers and editors and publishers and bloggers you know and saying hello! how are you? haven't seen you since the last book fair! got to run though! and then trying to remember their names but failing and it doesn't matter.

Running into people who have run into other people and then they tell you they were talking about you and you feel somewhere between awkward and totally and utterly flattered. Telling other people you were talking about them and watching their faces.

Finding like-minded nerds at tiny teeny panels attended by the twenty people in the world interested in German literature in the Anglophone world, for instance.

Getting hugs from tall attractive successful writers. Twice. Getting compliments from small attractive successful writers. On your personality. Yeah baby.

The opportunity to wear three different daytime dresses and, theoretically, three different nighttime dresses, except you're so enamoured of one particular nighttime dress that you wear it twice in the hope that no one notices, because the fair is so big that there's only one person you run into every night.

Running into one person every night and her joking about you being at all the parties. Which is not true because you only got invited to two three actual parties and you feel uncomfortable about gatecrashing parties because you'd actually really like to be invited to every single one like she seems to be.

Complaining to a publisher about not being invited to their party and said publisher scribbling "invitation to our party" on his business card, but you don't quite dare to test it out because really, anyone could scribble anything on a business card and you can't decide whether it would be more embarrassing to get into a party on that basis or to get turned away at the door for the sheer cheek of it.

Taking part in a semi-virtual petition-signing campaign to rescue a super-top fair and entertaining critic who got bumped out of her role in an Austrian literary competition in favour of a male critic to whom you have a personal aversion, who is however decent enough to sign the petition although he doesn't attend the actual real-life signing event. Probably busy elsewhere.

Spotting amazing books that make you think instantly of a particular American editor who you know would love them with all her heart.

Arriving with a bad case of cynicism in the morning (see next post) and then talking to a German indie publisher whose mother has baked biscuits stamped with the name of the publishing house. They are delicious because they taste of love rather than commodity. And because they're just delicious buttery biscuits.

German indie publishers.

German medium-sized publishers.

That feeling of being ever so slightly rebellious because you do something not many other people at the book fair do. And also the similar feeling when you get free drinks to which you're probably not entitled.

When book things you have wanted to happen for ages, literally a year and a half, do seem to be slipping into place unexpectedly. And then you get a free drink and go rocking round the German indie publishers and buy a CD of soul versions of country songs because you're in the best mood you've been in for a year and a half. The CD turning out, once you get home, to be pure gold, figuratively speaking, and knowing that every time you listen to it you'll remember that time when everything seemed to slip into place.

Meeting people you hardly ever see because they live on another continent and getting much, much more than the standard half-hour meeting with them, including hugs and gossip and exchange of opinion, and advice and support and something pretty darn close to love.

Introducing people to each other who you think would get on and ought to work together. Them getting on and "moving forward".

The perfect book fair crush, in which an attractive man catches your eye on the first day and you have no idea who he is but just vaguely think about him every now and then and spot him occasionally in various places and smile and then on the last night you find out from someone else that he's married and lives miles and miles away from you and does a job you're not really into, which makes everything all right because you can never have him but you wouldn't want him anyway, and you're just happy to have had someone attractive to exchange naughty smiles with.

Coming home again and catching up on sleep.


Anonymous said...

Total consent. And if it happens to have been my scribbled invitation – it would have been valid. What’s the title of the CD? Jo

kjd said...

The CD is called Dirty Laundry: the soul of black country. From Trikont.

And how do you know I didn't get several such scribbled invitations as I rocked around hall 4.1 in the world's best mood, huh?

Anonymous said...

That's why I used the subjunctive. Long live grammar.

Hannes said...

About the CD: yep, that is a really good one! Can't go wrong with the selections (and liner notes) by Jonathan Fischer.
There is also a "sequel", MORE dirty laundry, and it does not disappoint either: best version ever of "Tennessee Waltz" by Ruth Brown (love the spoken intro...), James Brown's take on country music (no, he cannot NOT be funky).
No affiliation with Trikont or J. Fischer. Just love good books, good translations and good (soul) music ;-)
Greetings, Hannes