Junot Díaz book tour
En la Miami Book Fair me tocó estar en la mesa junto a Junot Díaz, además de otros Bogotá 39 como Andrés Neuman, Adriana Lisboa, Wendy Guerra, Eduardo Halfon y Guadalupe Nettel, y fue obvio que la estrella absoluta era Junot Díaz. Fue él el primero en hablar y su intervención (acerca del papel de los inmigrantes en la literatura contemporánea) marcó la pauta de todas las demás intervenciones. La sala estaba llena. A decir verdad, pensé encontrarme con un Junot más combativo -como el que conocí en México-, pero en Miami me encontré con un hombre amable y algo cansado de arrastrar el Pullitzer, pretendiendo dejar un mensaje social o político difícilmente inteligible para quienes solo se preocupan de una firma y una foto con el autor más exitoso del 2008. Desde luego, para mí la Feria de Miami era solo un momento y luego, Aventura Mall y su oferta de playstation. Pero para Junot, la cosa seguía al infinito y se podía escapar de las manos. En Paper Cuts, por ejemplo, Jennifer Balderrama ofrece el testimonio de una noche mucho más agitada que el apacible mediodía de Miami:
This was one of the stranger readings I’ve been to. I sat at the end of the bar opposite Díaz, far enough away that I couldn’t see him over the crowd, although I could hear him, barely. Barely because of the two guys sitting just a few feet away from me — a couple of aggrieved regulars, whom we’ll call Red and the Dude. Red was big and Irish and annoyed, and he groused, none too politely, as he pounded back his beer. The Dude, his head disappearing into the darkness of his hoody, sulked. Red and the Dude had no idea who this intruder was, invading their space, drawing this crowd of pale, skinny acolytes into their domain. But they were not pleased. “Bring us the tab, darlin’, please,” they begged the bartender. “Please, hurry it up — I can’t take this!”
The lady behind the bar, blessedly, obliged. The two left in a huff, howling to the skies on their way out, “Jews for Jesus!”
Díaz, not missing a beat: “Did they say … Jews?”
(All of this, by the way, reminded me of something Stephen Fry posted on his blog recently, in the middle of a rant on “language, language, language”: These days, “anyone who expresses themselves with originality, delight and verbal freshness is more likely to be mocked, distrusted or disliked than welcomed.” Quite.)
The mood at Solas seemed to calm considerably after the departure of the offended twosome. And although the downstairs installment was supposed to be brief, Díaz took several questions. (My favorite, from another unsuspecting bar patron: “Excuse me, but — who are you?” Díaz: “Man, I’m just a writer.”) The author was witty. The masses were pleased. And Díaz was about to wrap things up with a parting passage from “Oscar Wao,” before finally heading upstairs, where he should have been all along, when from somewhere above us a voice cried down:
“Hey! Call 9-1-1!”
Someone had passed out.
I’ve been to a lot of readings lately — at the Mid-Manhattan Library, at a couple of universities, at a bookstore — and I figured that at a bar, sure, things would be different. I just hadn’t anticipated quite how different.
Which makes me curious, readers: What’s the strangest, most bizarre, most unintentionally eventful reading you’ve ever attended?