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Alexey Braguine

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Red Bird's Song
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2007 National Book Fair a Literary Desert
by Alexey Braguine   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Monday, March 17, 2008
Posted: Monday, March 17, 2008

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Alexey Braguine

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One would expect the National Book Fair to promote writers instead of keeping them out.


A warm Indian summer day at the Mall in Washington D.C. I study the assemblage of huge tents that promise an exciting day. I have a number of writer friends and I expect to see them pushing their books at the National Book Fair. I am especially thrilled because I have signed a publishing contract and I'll be able to share my news.
That moment of well-being did not survive fifteen minutes. It didn't take long to realize I was in the enemy camp. An invisible but effective wall been erected against the great majority of writers.
Unlike the San Francisco, Austin, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago book fairs, vibrant events where big and small publishing houses, established and new writers enthusiastically rubbed elbows and hawked their books; the acres and acres of tents were reserved only for a handful of megasellers.
The best way to describe this fair: A literary desert ruled by the almost-monopoly of the big houses. The tents where a couple of giant booksellers were crammed with books, but only a few titles were represented.
I listened to a couple of talks by famous writers. Then, glad a huge house was not publishing me; I went to the museum to enjoy paintings by the impressionists. In the museum, I thought of the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall.


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