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Frankfurt Book Fair 2022 by Audrey Mac Cready

Writing.ie | Member Blog

The Frankfurt Buchmesse takes place in a huge complex of five halls, each one like an airport. Lots of artificial light, stand after stand of publishers, and corridor after corridor of communication pathways. And escalators, and lifts. We spent one day there and did our ten thousand steps.

My friend had a successful meeting with one publisher, so we were well pleased. We found the section for Irish publishing, coloured green, of course. (This has gone past being a cliché – it’s now obligatory). The literary agents had gone home, having concluded their business in the first three days of the Book Fair, which are reserved for the businesses. That made sense. The staff who remained on the publishers’ stands looked a little tired. I’d say they were counting the hours until they could also fold their tents and return to the Emerald Isle.

It was interesting to see the stands of the major English-language publishing houses – Simon and Schuster, Penguin, Oxford University Press, Harper Collins. Not just letters on book spines, but the real thing.

So, no opportunity to pitch my book. Oh well. It was cool to go there in any case and I had a great weekend’s chat with a good friend. Plus, instead of spending the whole weekend at the Fair, we now had a day to spend in the city.

Frankfurt is basically stinking rich and has been for centuries. The first Frankfurter Messe is mentioned in 1150. Its position on the river Main enabled it to be a commercial centre and highway. It was politically important, too, being the city where German emperors were crowned from the 16th to the 18th century. It seems appropriate that the European Central Bank has its headquarters here. With a giant blue sculpture of the Euro out front.

We discovered that Frankfurt was also the birthplace of Goethe, he of ‘Faust’ fame, among many other works. As writers, we felt morally and professionally obliged to visit the house where he lived. Goethe was recognised as an important writer in his own lifetime (1759-1832) and his home has been preserved since 1863. Well, until World War Two, when it was bombed to smithereens along with much of the old centre of Frankfurt. It was faithfully reconstructed and reopened in 1951.

The rest of the city bears testimony to the same destruction, but instead of medieval pastiche, modern architecture flourishes. There is an ongoing competition among the many financial institutions to build the tallest skyscrapers.

I discovered on this trip that I’ve forgotten how to travel. Forgotten that Ryanair uses airports that are miles away from your actual destination. (Hello, Brussels South – actually Charleroi). In this case, it was a two-hour journey by coach from Frankfurt-Hahn airport into the city, to the Central Bus Terminal. Where there is no taxi rank. Sourcing information on the timetable for the shuttle bus back to the airport was akin to locating the Holy Grail. And let’s just say, there was a distinct lack of Irish friendly-helpfulness about. Polish up my research skills before travelling again.

I’m back to editing my book now. Painstaking, but productive. Even if it means killing a darling helicopter abseil experience for my protagonist!

(c) Audrey Mac Cready

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