“Monstrua” – Brenda Lozano y Gabriela Jauregui (coordinadoras)

When discussing literature throughout history, names arise within any of the existing currents. We can easily recognize all the Greeks in the creation of classical drama, Edgar Allan Poe establishing guidelines for the structure of contemporary short stories in Romanticism, Oscar Wilde inaugurating his own aestheticism movement… And the examples could go on. It would be elementary to say that literature has been exclusively a terrain of men; however, that would not be true.

Women have actively participated in the creation of literature in all its genres. However, we must refer to the facts; their path was different. To be taken seriously, published, and recognized as writers was a struggle that women had to endure, just like in any other area of society – outside of the roles of mothers and caretakers of the home. In reality, it was only relatively recently that women entered the world of literature with all their strength. Even at this point, we encounter more obstacles, as Virginia Woolf aptly put it: “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

Women generally live in societies where the most extraordinary success they can aspire to is finding a good husband and dedicating themselves to their families and homes. Perhaps, in recent times, it may also be possible to aspire to a job, as long as it does not take too much time away from “neglecting” the family. It might seem that this way of life is a stereotype, but it is a reality. Issues such as deciding to pursue their careers, seeking independence, writing… become acts of rebellion. They become things outside of the every day, something strange and even alien. Like monsters.

The monster created by Mary Shelley in Frankenstein reaches a revelation at some point: to lose fear and acquire power through it. That is what happens in this book. The anthology “Monstrua” talks about how the authors lose their fear of themselves and social repercussions and write. The coordinators choose “monstrua” instead of “monstruo” because, echoing Rosario Castellanos, even making that distinction is important: it’s something feminine. It’s women showing themselves, speaking out, writing.

This anthology offers texts created by young women from different parts of Mexico, from various contexts, communities, and languages, working in different genres such as poetry, short stories, essays, and even radio scripts. In addition, some authors present their texts in their native languages and provide translations into Spanish. Some of the texts are accompanied by photographs that not only accompany but also contribute to the atmosphere created by the text, enriching it and making it more intimate. Thus, readers encounter a proposal full of diversity, experimentation, and originality.

The work carried out by Brenda Lozano and Gabriela Jauregui as coordinators is not only dedicated and beautiful but also necessary. It is crucial for young women to see that what they have to say matters and that some means and people will seek ways to help them make their voices heard. These types of publications are what make a difference in the literary world because they present significant material, even collected from the most remote places in the country, demonstrating that there is still much more to discover.

Inkitt: BbyKevs
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The world of zines

Readers can encounter all kinds and varieties of reading. Books, magazines, blogs, and digital platforms are the most common and accessible formats. However, one format usually thrives in the underground world of reading: the zine.

Just because it’s “under” doesn’t mean that the fanzine is something that is suddenly emerging; in fact, its origins can be traced back to the late 19th century with the emergence of fiction self-publications. Over the years, the zine has taken on diverse shades, leaning more towards the artistic or science fiction in the 1930s, resembling the comic book format. At some point in the 1960s, zines turned towards politics and protest, even touching on taboo and counterculture topics.

Towards the 1990s, with access to computers and the internet, zines also transitioned to electronic media, giving rise to the term “ezine” or “e-zine.” This leap was made to attract more readers while simultaneously reducing distribution costs. Initially, they were distributed as PDF documents, later transitioning to a web format and becoming non-printable electronic magazines. This moment in the life of the zine is more of a branching point, as zines continue to be produced both physically and digitally today.

The fanzine is not exclusive to nor does it exclude any particular topic. We start with the premise that its term is a combination of the words “fan” (enthusiast) and “magazine,” which opens the door to anyone with an interest in a particular subject and writing to create a fanzine. From its beginnings, they were publications made by fans around a particular theme (such as music, sports, literature, film, comics). The fact that fans make them and do not have sponsorships or budgets pushes creators to produce them homemade. Although it might seem like a disadvantage, it actually offers its creators total freedom of expression without economic or any other type of ties to third-party interests.

Creativity is the limit when it comes to creating a fanzine. They can be made solely with texts or combined with images, made solely with images, clippings, or collages, combining papers, giving them any shape. Distribution can typically be through prints, photocopies, and digital PDF documents. The themes can be as varied as their creators, who are often specialists in the topic they present, without needing to be recognized as professionals, valuing their work more than their prestige. Thus, the true essence of the fanzine is being artisanal.

Currently, “prozines” are productions made with professional means, unlike zines. They incorporate all the initial concepts of zines: freedom of expression and creative freedom; however, they are self-published by creators who intend to make a living from their creative work. With this aim, their prints are of higher quality. They have style correctors and professional reviewers to improve their work. Personally, I find that the prozine is not necessarily in competition with the fanzine, as their objectives are different, and the existence of one does not diminish or complicate the other.

Fanzines emerged primarily as a need for their creators to have a voice in an environment where it was difficult to be heard, especially if one held opinions different from those of the time (whether political, moral, or of any other kind). The format, form, and content are as diverse and extensive as their creators, offering a wide range of productions. They were and are necessary if, as a writer, photographer, or graphic artist, one seeks to showcase their work or responds to that human impulse to express oneself, speak, and be heard.




Inkitt: BbyKevs
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“Antología” – Lambert Schlechter

“The Cartonera, an independent, artistic, and artisanal publisher, publishes books with covers made from cardboard collected from the streets of Cuernavaca, Morelos in Mexico. Each of our copies is a unique experience because, in addition to good literature, each of the covers is painted by an artist in our collective workshops,” is the headline on La Cartonera’s website. This publisher is a concept in itself: it is independent, receives no support from any institution, works in an artisanal and non-profit manner. It is, in short, an artistic endeavor that emerges against the current in a context where books seem to be increasingly scarce precious gems, but no less valuable for it.

This publisher also has a deep interest in bringing unconventional titles, such as “Contagio Cartonero: Creation in the Time of Pandemic.” In this book, an organizing committee from Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela gathered photographs, illustrations, and texts from over 40 participants ranging from preschoolers to adults. From Argentina, Colombia, Bogotá, Mexico, and Venezuela, artistic proposals such as illustrations, drawings, poems, and stories were gathered to respond to the growing need for unity and survival in the face of the pandemic and thus combat the uncertainty and fear of the moment.

Among these titles, one captivated me for its colors and format. Still, above all, I for its content because upon browsing it, I found that La Cartonera was the first publisher to translate this Luxembourgish author into Spanish in Mexico. Additionally, this edition is bilingual Spanish-French, confronting the texts head-on, allowing for more authenticity and depth by knowing the translated original words. It is a print run of only 150 copies, presenting an anthology of poems and letters by Lambert Schlechter, who is a philosopher and writer of poetry, novels, and essays who has been dedicated to his work as a writer since the early 1980s, and who was also named a Knight of Arts and Letters in 2001.

Although these poems and letters are extracted from other titles by the author, the selection made by the publisher is so good that all the poems seem intertwined and offer a consistent reading. However, I find another detail in these poems: the writer writes about the fact of being a writer. Not many do that; sometimes, the authors try to distance themselves from their works as if they were only concerned about what people or critics will say about their work. I appreciate it when authors are honest with themselves and their writing; it feels authentic. So, in a nutshell, I find Lambert Schlechter, as a poet, tremendously authentic and honest. The letters interspersed with the poems only reinforce this, adding, in any case, more complexity and richness to the poetry.

The themes that Schlechter touches on in his literary works are diverse, which makes a lot of sense when we consider that it has been over 35 years of career; however, universal topics can be found, such as the perception of the passage of time, desire, the complexity of life and death, nature, eroticism, and everyday life. Personally, I find it fascinating when poets talk about what they know and what surrounds them; it allows us not only to understand more about their lives but also to know their perspective on it, to distinguish their opinions, perceptions, conflicts… And realize that even though we may come from different backgrounds, social strata, generations, and genders, intrinsic things unite us as human beings.

Inkitt: BbyKevs
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International Book Fair of the Palacio de Minería 2024

The ancient Palacio de Minería is an architectural marvel from the early 19th century with a neoclassical style, refined for its time and imposing today. Walking through it on a Friday afternoon is a stroll that can be very enjoyable if one is open to perceiving and observing every corner. And that’s what happens to me, as I try to observe as much as I can while my coworkers go from booth to booth looking for books with such precision and urgency that I can’t keep up with them and get lost in the crowd. Because this, besides being an emblematic building of the Historic Center, is also the venue for the renowned International Book Fair of the Palacio de Minería.

A few days ago, I was walking through these streets and saw that they had set up some booths that, at that moment, I ignored, which would serve as ticket booths for entry to the Minería Book Fair in its 45th year. With a cost of $20 (pesos) on weekdays and $25 (pesos) on weekends, one can access the fair. All of this is organized by UNAM, through the Faculty of Engineering, with the state of Sinaloa as a guest. Efforts were made to provide signage to locate the publishers, but also for civil protection measures, handing out flyers that guide what to do in the event of earthquakes or fires; as well as making it accessible by providing ramps for people with wheelchairs. This event lasts for 2 weeks, which is quite logical and prudent considering all the activities it offers: workshops, conferences, book presentations, talks, readings aloud, and youth sessions.

Exploring the fair thoroughly and attentively in just one day seems like an endless task, just as it is impossible to participate in everything it offers. Distributed over several floors of the palace, in this venue, there are books for everyone and on many topics. Among the mazes that the booths become, arranged one after the other, I was pleasantly surprised to find some books that had been pending on my list at a slightly lower price than usual. It is gratifying to find such a variety of topics and so many titles, like at the Nirvana Ediciones booth, where I found some imported titles that I thought I could never get. Similarly, I discovered other publishers that fascinated me with their content; like Ediciones Tecolote, which has a collection of illustrated books designed for children but can also be enjoyed by adults, as they are inspired by texts by Neruda, Saramago, and Galeano.

Among many booths, the one that caught my attention especially was the Faculty of Art and Design, UNAM, which specializes in creating alternative books. What makes this publisher stand out is that its books are characterized by unique textures, shapes, and reliefs, and are the product of the work of students and teachers of the FAD. “Agua de Tabasco” is the creation of Elsa Madrigal, one of the exhibitors, who explains that her book tries to evoke water in all its facets: rivers, rain, lakes, seas. It is a voluminous copy, with a cost of $20,000 (pesos), which is understandable considering that it is a unique copy, painted with ink and hand-bound.


This fair is one of the most important not only in the country but also in Latin America, and although it leans towards the traditional standards of what a book fair is, it is no less interesting for that. There is so much to explore that you don’t know where to look first. Attending this type of event always leaves an interesting experience, especially if done accompanied, as it will be inevitable to find something to discuss upon leaving. But even more so, it will be difficult to leave without having found a title that you want to take home.

Inkitt: BbyKevs
Wattpad: @SugoiKevs
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Anarchist Book and Publications Fair 2024

The punk-nahuales from the State of Mexico are hidden in the streets, resisting and fighting in an endless battle against the police, oppression, and the status quo. Or at least, that’s how it is in the comic of Arte Subversivo Hakai Teki Ato, which presents its comics, fanzines, and illustrations printed on tote bags, pins, and cardboard at the Anarchist Book and Publications Fair of 2024. He says he is inspired, of course, by anarchism, but also draws from the nahuales that his grandparents told him about since he was a child. It’s in this fair that he reminds us of our roots, in order to raise awareness of how vulnerable they are and to defend them.

The number 10 on Donceles Street, in the Historic Center, looks enigmatic at first sight. Whether because it is an old building that denounces the years that have passed through it or because it has a banner hanging on its facade announcing that the property is not for sale, adding even more mysticism if possible. It almost seems like a secret location if you don’t know that on the first floor there is a book fair, as there are no signs or indications that give a clue about it. The entrance is through a dimly lit door that leads to an equally dark courtyard, where stairs finally take you to the event. Only by following the voices and the smell of tobacco is it that one learns that indeed, something is happening upstairs.

Feria del Libro y Publicaciones Anarquistas 2024
The humble facade where the Anarchist Book and Publication Fair of 2024 takes place.

The fair space is small and barely covered by tarps; the organizers have put their own efforts into the event, and it shows. The budget proves to be tight with rented chairs, a banner announcing the event, along with an amplifier and a microphone. However, this austerity is in close logic with what this fair symbolizes: anarchy, which from its beginnings, goes against opulence. There are no subsidies or sponsors here, and as someone said at some point, they persist because they resist. Moreover, although at first glance, it may seem inhospitable, the truth is that many people were coming in and out, denoting movement and even creating a crowd of people to be near the table of talks and book presentations. The presenters of these books spoke, of course, about their works, but they also knew how to connect with the attendees, posing questions and inquiries. For example, when Ediciones Satánicas talked about religion, the question was: does it really contribute to us as a society, or is it, as Marx said, the opium of the masses? Or when El Ratoncito Literario presented “Micropolitics of Madness”, making us reflect if we are truly aware and empathetic with the mad, who are nothing more than people with mental illnesses who have been excluded over the years.

Many of these exhibitors are truly committed to spreading their ideals, such as those of the newspaper Resistencia, which usually offers its publications at the intersection of Bellas Artes with voluntary cooperation to continue with its printing press; they are always receiving publication material, with the only rule being that the theme is related to anarchism. It is worth mentioning that these exhibitors are mostly men who know each other, turning the fair into a meeting place. At the same time, they offer crafts, fanzines, and old books on their tables, which are largely themed around social criticism, the exclusion of certain communities, theatrical art, and rebellion. Undoubtedly, this fair is not for everyone (at least not for those who still do not want/cannot question themselves and their environment). And although this may sound like an event exclusively for adults, I did encounter a girl, and among the books, I also found one titled “Explaining Anarchy to Children“.

Inkitt: BbyKevs
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“¡Viva Aguascalientes! Que su feria es un primor: Historia de las peleas de gallos en Aguascalientes, siglos XVIII-XX”

At #4129 South 75th Street in the Asturias neighborhood, there was until a few years ago a house known as “The House of the Roosters.” Partly because there was a painting of a rooster on its facade, but mainly because it indicated that there was a workshop for cockfighting knives in that house. The workshop was a family business that my grandfather started in Guadalajara in the 1940s, and which he later brought to Mexico City when he came to live here. In my childhood, it was very common for me to hear the sound of knives being sharpened, to feel the heat when they melted the metal, and to see many men coming in and out, often with roosters in their cages.

“Navajas Aguilar: ‘We’re not the only ones, but we’re the best’,” was not just a phrase; they were so important in the business that, in 1982, Gustavo Alatriste came to my house to film a scene featuring the workshop for his movie “Aquél famoso Remington”. In addition to the people who went to the workshop, they also made many shipments to other states. And every year, as the San Marcos Fair in Aguascalientes approached, the work increased significantly. When I came across the book “¡Viva Aguascalientes! Que su feria es un primor: Historia de las peleas de gallos en Aguascalientes, siglos XVIII-XX,” I was amazed to see so many photographs and excerpts from other literary works in it—such as “El gallo de oro” by Juan Rulfo, “El libro de mis recuerdos” by Antonio García Cubas, or “Niñez y juventud provincianas” by Pedro de Alba—where cockfights were the centerpiece of everything.

The beauty of this book lies in the historical journey it takes, as it is an extensive and detailed research that contains documentary, bibliographic, and newspaper references, but especially because, as stated on the back cover, “it is not a history of the roosters, but of the deeds of the men who have participated directly or indirectly in cockfights”. In this book, we can see some historical images, such as the one where Rodolfo Fierro is tying a knife to a rooster, and next to him are Francisco Villa and Raúl Madero. You can also find images of paintings, watercolors, and drawings by artists such as José Guadalupe Posada, Osvaldo Barra, and Leon Trousset. Its photographic journey indirectly tells the history of Aguascalientes and the progress of Mexican society over 3 centuries, showing how this Fair (and even more so the fights) attracted so many people that it drove the state’s growth.

The conflict of how politically correct cockfighting is does not go unnoticed in this reading, but that was a problem of the last decades. To a large extent, the problem that existed from the beginning arose because the fights involved bets, and regulating them was a conflict for the government. In addition, discussions among bettors frequently arose, necessitating police intervention and, therefore, people’s request for them to be banned. Ultimately, the only thing that has been able to slow them down a bit has been the passage of time and new ideologies. However, they cannot be denied as part of history and cultural heritage.

The now-known National Fair of San Marcos continues to take place every year, and this book is a celebration especially for Aguascalientes. On the other hand, for me, it was a touch on my back to look back, to my childhood, to the house of the roosters. That was my home for a long time, until my grandmother passed away, and my uncles decided to sell it. Many things have changed since then, and one tries to move forward with their life, but from time to time, on the way, we encounter things that make us look back. This book reminded me that we have all belonged to a place at some point.

Inkitt: BbyKevs
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The Material Fair—World Art Book Fair—Qipo Fair

I consider myself a city mouse, in contrast to Aesop’s country mouse. I have lived all my life in Mexico City, I have walked it many times from north to south, from east to west, and from top to bottom in its skyscrapers. However, it never ceases to amaze me that no matter how much one walks in this city, there is always something new to see, a new place to discover, full of people who live in this city, but who, were it not for these events, we would never cross paths in our daily lives. Likewise, I still find it fascinating that although the people who live in this city share the same streets, the same sky, and even the same love for this patch of land, our ways of seeing and perceiving it are very different.

One of the biggest proofs of all of the above that I have come across is the event divided into 3 parts of the Material Fair—World Art Book Fair—Qipo Fair that took place during the so-called Art Week, from February 8th to 11th, 2024. In its 3 venues—Expo Reforma, Humboldt Building, and Temoskali Building, respectively—there were European and Latin American foreign exhibitors who, from their art trenches, brought to Mexico City just a part of what they do. With each part having a unique essence, the Material Fair and the Qipo Fair focused on the exhibition of national and international plastic artworks, while the World Art Book Fair opened space for mostly Mexican publishers and publications.

The world artbookfair was pet-friendly and had more than 50 exhibitors, housed on the fourth floor, in a bright penthouse with balconies. Its walls were occupied with much of the merchandise the exhibitors were selling—illustrations, photographs, tote bags—and, in many cases, the authors of the artistic pieces offered them. The atmosphere was warm (for winter), and in the air, you could perceive a gentle aroma of beer, as it was the main drink being offered—unlike the Material Fair, where the main drink was artisanal mezcal. Although the space was not very large, it was well distributed, with a section where various authors gave talks about their books and fanzines, with the public just 3 steps away. This was the atmosphere that was lived in conjunction with the books and some plastic works presented in the stands.

The variety of books was beautiful. Roge Ediciones carried out the project “Dreamland” and “Adventureland,” which are books written and illustrated by children; Ediciones Sin Resentimientos brought the anthology of projects carried out by the theatrical collective “Lagartijas al Sol,” among many other titles that have been canned and rescued by them for publication, making an analogy with their name to the fact of not holding resentment towards the past for not having achieved the publication of a project; Can Can Press brought an excellent sample of what the publisher does: graphic design, illustration, and lots of color; Miau Ediciones had the most recent work of Sonia Madrigal: a book of photography of graffiti messages found on the streets, questioning why, at the same time as love is professed to women, they are also the main victims of violence.

The most exciting thing about these books is that the authors do not focus on themselves when creating—as is often the case in other art exhibition fields—but instead, they look outward to their environment, and they depict it. They are not afraid to criticize society with their work and expose it to the world, showing both the beautiful and the unpleasant and the perfectible. As I said before, this city is full of diverse perspectives, these artists recognize it and exalt it, offering the public hundreds of perspectives.

Inkitt: BbyKevs
Wattpad: @SugoiKevs
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Index Art Book Fair 2024 – 10th edition

Sol is 10 years old and is Ecuadorian, but he recently moved to Mexico because his mom works here. He supports the América Eagles, I knew that because of the shirt he was wearing, and also because he told me with great conviction. He also told me that he has read all the Harry Potter books; his favorite is The Deathly Hallows, and he argues that, although The Order of the Phoenix has a lot of action, he doesn’t like it because many characters die. We talked a bit more about books because we’re in the children’s area of the Index Art Book Fair in its tenth edition.

Constituyentes metro station is a portal that, when crossed, takes you from the outskirts of the city, from the neighborhood, from every day to a place where there are fancy cafes everywhere and art galleries where they hold book fairs explicitly dedicated to art books and artistic books, which is not the same thing, one only understands if they see them together. If you enter the Kurimanzutto Gallery for one of these events and find a comfortable place to observe everything, you’ll see that books are an excellent excuse for attendees to gather and see old acquaintances. Also, if you look closely, you’ll discover it’s also a runway. There are so many styles here that it’s hard to categorize them as vintage, old money, aesthetic, or similar trends. This is easily explained because many here are artists and they let it be seen through what they wear.

These artists come here to arm themselves with new material that inspires them in their new creations and to find out what’s going on out there. The books on display are often presented by their creators themselves; if you’re lucky, the author may personally explain what a particular work is about. But there’s more; these artists meet others who present their performances in the gallery’s courtyard, intervening in the not-so-everyday routine of an art book fair, and again, it’s possible to approach these performers to get to know them a little more or simply to see them outside of their environment.

Hanging above all these book stands are posters listing “25 ways to make love to the Earth,” and over the loudspeaker, someone is inviting people to some of the talks or book presentations taking place, where the authors are just half a meter away. The walls are decorated with posters, t-shirts, drawings, photographs, and paintings that not only serve as exhibits but are also for sale and are part of the collections presented by the artists. Along the stands, there is a wide variety of books that fascinate with their content, but even more so with their structure. There are proposals for book structures in many stands: books made of fabric, in unconventional shapes like hearts or circles, some very small with giant letters. The variety of formats and designs seems endless and invites you to want to continue exploring the place to see more.

It is inevitable to notice that there are recurring topics in the books presented: the environment, feminism, queer, recreational substance use, and of course, illustration, photography, and design. Because that’s what matters most to artists: knowing and recognizing their world, to try to capture it in what they do. This fair is open to the public and is an excellent opportunity to inhabit an uncommon space in most people’s lives: that of art in books and books in art.

Inkitt: BbyKevs
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