A Morning at the Book Fair / Rebeca Monzo

My friends say I’m very passionate, very vehement and sometimes present things in a very radical way.I admit that is true, but if anything I have sinned greatly in my life, it is to put a lot of heart (like the bolero) in everything I do and to not shut my mouth in the face of what I consider unfair or wrong, without giving too much attention to the consequences. It’s another reason why I have a blog.

Once when I worked in radio, I came up with a phrase that the director, now in Mexico, really loved. I said, on that occasion: Passion inflames the heart, fanaticism clouds reason. I still think so, but let’s get to the subject I’m concerned about:

Recently they’ve started, on a TV program with a big audience, to promote, on the occasion of the Book Fair, some cases of very attractive small kitchen booklets, which they will sell at the Pavilion Cuba for Valentine’s Day. From that moment I resolved to go there to buy them, though certainly I don’t like to go to that site: La Cabaña, a place of dark memories, not to mention that it seems a prison-like framework for encouraging reading. Remember, it was a dark prison and place where much blood was shed, not to mention that the Book Fair there seems more gastronomic than literary.

Finally we, Fernando (whose blog is “Marmalade“) and I, went there about ten in the morning and got tickets for which we had to pay three Cuban pesos and went up, almost running, the dirty ramp looking for the place where we found books from long ago, those abounding in political themes, but nothing of interest to us.

Hence our first unpleasant experience: you can not enter the room with bags or backpacks. I handed my bag to Fernando, who did not enter so that I could do so. When ) asked about the cookbooks, I said one of those n charge of that room said they had not arrived. How could that be, if their sale was announced on TV today? Madam, and you believe everything they say on TV? You’re mistaken, it’s just that I worked in the media, no, I don’t believe a single word. The only true thing they say is the date, like in the newspaper Granma. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but there were some children’s stories with very beautiful illustrations, and thinking of my grandchildren, I selected a few.

I walked up to the cashier with my little booty in hand, and they do not want to accept payment in CUC. How is it possible if you live in this country with the two currencies and for the most necessary things you have to acquire them with that? The answer was a gesture with eyes staring at the ceiling.

I went down the ramp disappointed, very angry and went to the first support staff of the place to express my complaints, asking them if they would pass it along to their superiors.

I left that dirty and unkempt Pavilion, where the gardens are in danger of extinction as are the stairs leading to it, all carved by neglect, thinking how it is possible, in the heart of Vedado, in an area of hotels and tourism, to have that great venue in such a state of deterioration. So ended my only foray into the media-promoted Fair.

February 15 2012