By IRINA ECHARRY
HAVANA TIMES, December 27.- A Reading History Fair is taking place these last days of 2008, at the Pabellon Cuba exhibition center on 23rd St. in Havana’s Vedado district. Every afternoon at 5:00 p.m. a new book is presented and the topics have been varied from politics, to trova, to sports to poetry.
The book of the day on Christmas was Con las bases llenas… Beisbol, Historia y Revolucion (With the bases loaded… baseball, history and revolution), a collection put together by Felix Julio Alfonso, a well known historian and researcher that participates each week on the Cuban TV program Escriba y lea (Write and read).
The atmosphere was festive with a public of all ages. I saw Felix Julio signing his book, talking with retired athletes that made history in Cuban baseball, and with leaders of the Cuban Sports Institute and the Young Communist League (UJC).
Lazaro Vargas, a former star third baseman for Havana’s Industriales, shook a lot of hands with his fans, the same as Higinio Velez who for several years managed the Cuban national team.
Baseball is the national sport and people live the most diverse emotions when watching it played. A large segment of the population keeps tabs on the standings and especially during the playoffs and international baseball tournaments. In the buses, lines, domino games, workplaces and at homes people talk about the players as if they were family.
That explains why so many people were on hand to buy a copy of a book that talks baseball and describes the peculiarities of the sport in revolutionary Cuba. Twenty-one writers offer their opinions on the 48 different seasons played since 1959.
The Reading History Fair is sponsored by the Cuban Book Institute and the UJC and is part of the celebrations in the capital for the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.
Besides each day’s main book presentation, there are other stands with new and used books for sale. There’s also a space for live and recorded jazz called Pepito’s Club, decorated with vampire dolls, (like in the movie Vampires in Havana) with sweets for the smallest to alcoholic beverages for adults.