October 2005

Antiquarian Book Fair

This weekend we went to the Antiquarian Book Fair in Buenos Aires at the Palais de Glace. Since I’m a librarian and Ceci’s a book designer, we were both fascinated by the works on display.

It supposedly is the only fair of its type in South America and most of the items were from Argentina. There were 18 book dealers represented. All of whom have stores in Buenos Aires.

Imago Mundi, which has a nice store at Arroyo 971, was the only one with significant items from old world Europe. They had a number of 15th century books.

A highlight of the fair for me was the 1942 handwritten draft of the short story El Milagro Secreto (The Secret Miracle) by Jorge Luis Borges. It was interesting to see the very small, precise handwriting of Borges, which probably was due to his poor eyesight. His blindness would become complete in the mid-1950s.

The Secret Miracle is a wonderful story in which time is suspended for a year while a Jewish writer has a chance to complete a story before being executed by the Nazis.

A lot of first editions by Argentine writers were on display, as well as the first Spanish languge editions of many works such as Lolita published by Editorial Sur.

Rare books are not always old. In many cases they have special features, such as particular bookmaking techniques. For example, there was a version of Oliverio Girondo’s Espantapájaros that had a specially designed binding. In other cases, the books are limited editions. Another work by Girondo was illustrated by the painter Spilimbergo.

When seeing one work, which I unfortunately can’t remember, Ceci exclaimed, “Look at the graphic spirit of this book”.

One book on art had a colored drawing by the Uruguayan artist Joaquin Torres-Garcia pasted inside.

Other vendors with Web sites included Alberto Casares, El Glyptodón, Los Siete Pilares, Librería Anticuaria L’Amateur. They all could use some serious help with their Web designs but it gives you an idea. The stores are much more interesting in person anyway.


I’ve been meaning to write a little about Diego Maradona ever since seeing this perceptive post about Diego Armando Maradona over at Altered Argentina. A volatile discussion about Maradona has been surging recently over on the South American branch of the Thorn Tree, which reminded me of the topic.

I’m from the US and had never even heard of Maradona until I started dating Cecilia four years ago. When I moved to Buenos Aires I couldn’t understand why this fat, drug addict with bad hair was a national hero. I was all prepared to hate Maradona as just another scandalous superstar athlete. And, yes, he is all that (but not fat anymore).

However, as I started to see him interviewed on TV (before he had his own show) I came to see a side of him — a certain child-like quality — that is appealing. He’s like the mischievous kid who is always getting himself into trouble but, for some reason, is still likable. He also doesn’t seem to have the arrogant, blowhard personality that I assumed. So, I’ve found myself, unexpectedly, liking Maradona.

I don’t regularly watch his TV show but bad TV talk shows seem to be insanely popular on Argentine TV (e.g., Susana). I actually find that much more difficult to understand than Maradona’s popularity.

Back to Baires

I’ve not actually been away from Baires but have been away from this blog for more than a month. Just been hanging out not doing much of anything…lately I’ve been writing more on my more academic site, Endless Hybrids, which will be boring to anyone who is not interested in digital libraries or new media. But, I’m going to make an effort to write more Buenos Aires.