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“Señora, you’ve earned a spot in heaven.”

from the Los Angeles Times

HECTOR TOBAR:

Outpost of literature feeds the body and the mind

Bookstore and restaurant

 

Stefano Paltera, For The Times

Sandra Romero of Mama’s Hot Tamales offered space to Librería Hispanoamérica in hopes that they can help one another survive the economic downturn.

Hector Tobar, March 24, 2009

Somewhere up in poet heaven, Roque Dalton is a happy man.

Just across the street from MacArthur Park, the town square of Central American immigrants in Los Angeles, a tiny storefront has an entire shelf dedicated to the works of the Salvadoran writer, who died in 1975.

Dalton’s poems celebrate the tenacity of Salvadorans and their diaspora across the Americas. If his books had eyes, they could look through the store’s glass window and see his countrymen hawking snow cones and tacos outside.

The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda lives inside the Librería Hispanoamérica too. His “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair” is a popular item there, as is the work of another Nobel laureate, the Guatemalan novelist Miguel Angel Asturias.

Spotting great literature in the shadow of the park’s aging palm trees, in a corner of the city once infamous for the sale of crack cocaine and sex, felt at first like stumbling upon a mirage.

One of the local alcoholics thought so too. First, he wandered over from the park’s lawns and skeptically inspected the freshly swept sidewalks in front of the bookstore. Then, persuaded they were real, he stepped inside.

Señora, you’ve earned a spot in heaven,” he told owner Aura Quezada. “Because in this place where everyone opens liquor stores, you have opened a bookstore.”

[ click to continue reading at the LA Times ]

Posted on March 25, 2009 by Editor

Filed under Literary News, Los Angeles | | No Comments »