Sunday, June 7, 2009

Printers Row Lit Fest (formerly the Printers Row Book Fair)

Keeping dry

Neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night shall keep the book hunters from their appointed rounds. Well, okay, there's no snow in Chicago in June, nor is the Fest held at night, but this morning's sprinkles just brought out the plastic to cover books and browsers. The weather forecast said the storms would come in the afternoon (in the event, they didn't), so I went down in the morning, not deterred by the aforesaid sprinkles. In fact, the cool and overcast weather was ideal for walking and browsing, particularly as the day wore on and my bag of books got heavier and heavier. (Fortunately, Half Price Books was giving away nice big bags.)

Since the Chicago Tribune took over from the South Loop Planning Board several years ago, the event has seen a bit of a change in focus, so that author readings have increased tremendously, with events at the Harold Washington Library Center and the University Center as well as at the Fair itself, and there are more non-book exhibitors (t-shirt manufacturer? yarn store?). But it's still a ton of used bookstores, along with small presses and university presses, and a lot of self-published authors.

I made a fair haul:
Chicago Churches, by Elizabeth Johnson (which I reviewed here)
Asia in the Eyes of Europe: Sixteenth through Eighteenth Centuries, a catalogue from an exhibition at the University of Chicago Library
Shoe Fleur: a Footwear Fantasy, by Michel Tcherevkov, photographs of shoes made of flowers (!)
Permissions: a Survival Guide: blunt talk about art as intellectual property, by Susan Bielstein
The Pleasures of Japanese Literature, by Donald Keene
The Heather Blazing, a novel by Colm Tóibín, one of my favorite authors
Napoli in Cucina, by Fabrizia Gerli
Bolzano in bocca, by Eva Kurt

The last two are cookbooks in Italian, of which one seller had a huge number! Kurt's book is actually a triple-language book: German, Italian and English. It's a very nicely designed book, with cardboard covers and old-style illustrations, printed on a heavy paper. The recipes are in German on the verso, in a font designed to resemble handwriting, and then in Italian and English on the recto. There's a glossary in the back, with German terms translated into Italian. I may try some of the recipes, but not the Beef Brain Croutons.

I was also very tempted by an edition of Dante's Divina Commedia, in Italian, with the Doré illustrations, but at $150 (even though the guy would have come down) it was way out of my price range.

I stopped by the Charles H. Kerr booth:
Studs on Charles Kerr
hoping to speak to Penelope Rosemont and give her my condolences on Franklin's death. I had just missed her; however, I left a note and will go to the memorial service at the Newberry in July.

I did see Michelle Duster, whose book, Ida in her own words: the timeless writings of Ida B. Wells from 1893, I had bought at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference Book Fair. We had a nice chat and said rude things about the University of Chicago and its relations with the community.

It wasn't all books, however. As I strolled down the street, I was accosted by a woman, an animal shelter volunteer, who asked me if I'd like a cat or kitten! I demurred, telling her that I already had two cats. She agreed that I had done my part, but noted that there were cats and dogs up for adoption who could be visited in the grooming salon right behind us. So, I visited. Look! A two-headed cat!
Please adopt me and my sister!
(Oh, not really. Just two kitty siblings sharing a blanket.)

All in all, it was a lovely day, and now I have a bunch more books to read.

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