Setting: West Hollywood Book Fair, 'round noon, Librería Martínez booth.
Protagonists: Me, Librería Martinez volunteer Jess Baudillo, and a gaggle of gals from the Mission VIejo Public Library.
Scene: They had just invited me to speak at some author's festival they're proposing for next year. I, having a new book to hawk, graciously accepted. I told them I had a successful book signing a couple of weeks ago sponsored through Librería Martínez.
“You've never heard of Librería Martínez?” Jess asked incredulously.
“What is it?” one of the librarians asked.
I start naming its attributes–the legendary authors that visit again and again (Sandra Cisneros soon!), the Macarthur Genius-winning head Rueben Martínez, the wonderful books, the fact that it's a shining jewel in SanTana…
“Oh, we don't travel north of the El Toro Y,” one lady laughed, half-serious, half-smugly.
Jess and I looked at each other painfully. Folks, it's somewhat acceptable if the average Juan and Jill have never heard of Librería Martínez, but for LIBRARIANS TO NOT KNOW ABOUT A WORLD-FAMOUS BOOKSTORE IN THEIR OWN PINCHE COUNTY gets to the heart of our Sunkist memories. It's almost as stupid an oversight as the Huntington Beach Fourth of July parade organizers who at first denied a parade permit to Sylvia Mendez of Mendez vs. Westminster fame because the civil rights icon didn't possess enough “entertainment value.” I'm sure the ladies personally are alright, but professionally, they're pendejas (in the literal sense of the word–look it up!).
Afterwards, Jess and I discussed what happened. “Think they'll visit Librería Martínez now that they know?” I said.
Silence. And we moved on to talk with folks from across Southern California–young, old, none librarians, all wonderful folks, white, black, Latino–looking to speak with Mr. Martínez.