Literary Tourist in Madrid
We flew into Madrid.
Gotta love an airport that has one of these out front of it
Parked ourselves at the AC Hotel Carlton Madrid, Paseo de las Delicias, 26. A good choice. Close to the train station: we were able to walk from it to the hotel, pulling our luggage, in about 10 minutes. It’s right downtown, a similar ten minute stroll to the Prado, where, across the street, you’ll find loads of good tapas restaurants. Not far off there’s Cervantes’s
burial place, and around the corner from it, a museum located in the house where Lope de Vega lived. Back to the hotel: the breakfast buffet is unbelievably good.
Making our way past the train station toward the Prado we came to the bottom of Calle de Claudio Moyano, off Paseo del Prado (one of the most beautiful streets in Madrid). The former is lined with vending stalls, most of which sell
books – albeit not that
aggressively. Spaniards are evidently great
readers; unabashedly so
as well as writers
So, lots of books on hand.
Had a nice chat with the owner of Librería Javier Fernández (stall 28).
Asked him to name some of his favourite Spanish book designers. One was Manolo Prieto. These covers designed between 1940 and 1957 for the low-cost weekly journal Novelas y Cuentos. As you can see, they feature clever word/picture play
and can be had for a mere $3-4 each. Something good and cheap to look for as you hit some of the many
stores in town, and talk to the booksellers. Although an important book designer, Prieto is best known for designing the Osborne Bull, “a 14-metre (46 ft) high black silhouetted image of a bull in semi-profile” that you see dotted around the Spanish landscape. It was designed in 1956 for the Osborne Sherry company, and has become something of a national symbol.
Speaking of which, in front of the Prado you’ll see this statue of a boy and a fish which,
if you ask me, looks a whole lot like William Pickering’s publishing imprint/logo. Further up the street you’ll encounter the National Library.
Close by there’s an Irish pub – The James Joyce,
where author readings, in English and Spanish, regularly take place; book clubs meet here too. Across town at Campomanes 13 there’s Petra’s International Bookshop. Mostly English books here – paperbacks and reading copies. There’s an interesting Spanish Antiquarian seller a few
doors down. Work your way back to the hotel and you’ll come across the Sophia Riena museum. It typically presents interesting exhibits and talks, often book-related. We were lucky. At the time we were here there was a William Blake exhibit running: a true, all-round bookman. After this, it’s time for those
tapas. Chased by a serving of churros
with hot chocolate. Followed by bed.