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On the most depressing book presentation I've ever given.
CATALONIA TODAY – SECTION: LONG-TERM RESIDENT - ARTICLE NINETY-FOUR
Last Friday I went to one of the smallest towns on the Maresme coast, invited by a cultural organiser there to present my latest book. At the last minute he told me he hadn't ordered any copies, but luckily the publishers managed to courier me a baker's dozen in time for me to lug them onto the train.
The organiser picked me up from the station and, by chance, we ran into three friends of his who followed us into the venue: a huge, unlit house the outside and inside of which were conspicuously free of any indication a book was going to be presented there. (The organiser explained it had been impossible to print any posters 'because of Holy Week'). Twenty minutes past the appointed time, it was clear that not a single soul was going to turn up. He suggested we went to a bar, on the way to which he told his friends – not me - that he'd been experimenting with a new poster design, and pulled out a wad of placards on which, I noticed with surprise, news of my presentation was prominently displayed. When I asked him why he hadn't put any of these things up, he shrugged, smiling: 'bad organisation'.
In the bar, I asked when it would be convenient for him to give me a (previously agreed) lift back to Barcelona. He replied that as there hadn't been a presentation, I could now catch the train. Mercifully, one of his friends offered to drive me and my bagful of superfluous books back to the real world, far from this tiny coastal Twilight Zone to which writers were summoned for the sole purpose, as far as I could see, of being politely humiliated until it dawned on them just how very expendable they were.