Thursday, 2 June 2011


Sitting under a large parasol advertising Bitburger lager, and taking it's advice, in a square which is a swathe of green with a statue of an absurdly fat Fredrick II in the middle (rather reminding me of Jeremy Melvin) and what looks like a rebuilt neoclassical museum with caryatids which turns out to be a supermarket to my left, and looking way out over the surrounding landscape (making me think of nothing but military artillery) you quickly notice one thing; the well put together youth of Kassel, the joyful youth of Kassel, the healthy youth of Kassel, the bloody well built youth of Kassel or at least those with any sense of themselves at all, those who've discovered unruly make-up at least, just can't wait to get the fuck out of here to somewhere down and dirty like London or Los Angeles.
Kassel was flattened in WW2 because Volkswagen were here, and I mean, flattened. It was rebuilt in a kind of cosy Bauhaus meets Basildon with trams type of thought typical of the period, a sort of 'rebuilding blues' architecture. A hundred yards away, cars speed past like they are on electric rails, and you don't cross the road when you are not supposed to. This does not happen in London or Los Angeles.
We're here for a book fair. Since niether of us like smoozing this is largely a waste of time, we probably won't even sell any books, but last night it did find us in the Museum of Burial (!!) for the opening of a stupid exhibition of a Mexican photographer who copied Weegee (photographed death scenes) I would have thought the Mexicans had enough death not to copy the american version, but as I sat nibbling a breadstick on the veranda admiring the view that was not what caught my attention besides the two vintage BMW hearses exhibited on either side of me (these Germans are strange). What caught my attention was just how nerdy bookmakers are even if they do tend to have funny hair and odd clothing.
Firstly bookmakers are all broke, they can't afford a breadstick, but they will mortgage themselves to come to these events. Crickey! Talk about endpapers can go on for hours, give them a glass of wine and it's indents and interruptions with blank pages. Interruptions with blank pages means the beckoning over of other bookmakers to discuss this profound question of narrative in book design for more hours. And of course they are all marvelously zealous which is most heartening in one way as it is bewildering in another. It's not like they make the work, but they are obsessed by their curation of it their conditioning of it, and they are a retail industry which pathologically hates retail (clearly Black Books highly authentic here).
But it's gone further. There are books here which are just books of blank, black pages (250pgs). I dared to suggest it might be sketchbook for those with white pencils. There's a neat book about a collection of spoons (spoons nicked from airlines while going've guessed bookfairs). There's a bloke who's publishing a book a day....or something.
I'll be back under the parasol this afternoon.

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