books and their covers & a glimpse of fame

I was down in Seville at the weekend, at the Feria del Libro, for a cuentacuentos session and book signing.

Opposite Casa Pilatos, Seville
Seville: cool and green in the morning
The story-telling was on the Saturday morning and the guys from the bookshop who had invited me warned me not to expect a big audience; apparently 11:30 is considered early in Seville.

Of course, people go to bed very late – the women in the next room to me in the hotel clearly didn’t go out till after 11:00 on the Friday night and came back at about 4:30am. It seems odd, though, that the best part of the day – first thing after the sun gets up and while it’s all still fresh and cool – should be wasted. Particularly as, by lunch time, Seville heat can be suffocating.

I was also warned that it was the first time Seville had hosted anything like the Topka books or the Librería Mira stand – the bookshop slogan is “por la diversidad” – so it was likely to be controversial and might not be popular. The Fair organisers had rejected a proposed reading of “El Amor de Todos Los Colores”, which is about Maite and her two mothers, but they had accepted “Bubbles” which features David, a black child who uses a wheelchair.

Neither David’s colour nor his physical disability has much impact on the picture poem which is the focus of the book. It was interesting, then, to find that people still think books can be judged by their covers: at least two adults saw the picture of David en la silla de ruedas and voiced concerns that this might be an unduly sentimental or weepy book. They seemed to think it was going to be like the “Little Match Girl” or other books that should come with a free box of tissues.

The Feria advertising didn’t actually say anything about “Bubbles” – not even that it is bilingual – so I’m not sure what people expected from the cuentacuentos. Still, some children and adults made an effort to get up early enough to attend and I didn’t end up talking to myself. A few even made it to the stand afterwards, though I can’t say there was a mad rush to buy.

One woman didn’t arrive in time to hear me tell the story, but came up as I was packing up and asked me to sign a copy of Bubbles that she had bought at the tail-end of last year. It was odd – but not unpleasant – to have someone come looking for me for an autograph!

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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