I began collecting Latin American literature in the early 90s. My attention was first drawn to Chilean authors whose works I enjoyed reading, such as Pablo Neruda, Nicanor Parra, and José Donoso. Over time I expanded to encompass 20th-century literature from all of Latin America.
I still pursue some specific authors but find myself more frequently chasing themes that illustrate the history of book production and distribution in modern Latin America. This ranges from work by fine press printers such as Colombo of Argentina and Taller Martín Pescador of Mexico to more rustic/ephemeral work from Ediciones Vigía of Cuba, La rama florida of Peru, Ediciones Mimbre of Chile, and the itinerant Ediciones El Mendrugo. And I am particularly interested in material relating to prisons, which I define broadly as books that landed their authors in jail, were inspired by time spent in jail, and/or were printed in a jail print shop.
Finally, I collect heavily in the field of Chicano/Latinx literature. This has been tremendous fun from a number of perspectives: much material is ephemeral (and beautiful!), the content often relates to my native Southwest, many authors are still living, and I can more easily obtain manuscript material.
César Vallejo. Lima: Talleres Tipográficos de la Penitenciaría, 1923.
A distinguished copy of this Peruvian’s first book of prose: an unrecorded issue on rag paper with presentation inscription to his father. Vallejo recovered the book after his father’s death in 1924 and made extensive holographic revisions for a planned revised edition. However, the project was delayed by 70 years on account of Vallejo’s untimely death in 1938 and the disappearance of this revised copy during the Nazi occupation of France.
Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda.
Pablo Neruda. New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1961.
I find this association copy particularly evocative. After meeting Neruda during his tenure as Librarian of Congress, Archibald MacLeish spent decades promoting Neruda in the US. He recommended Neruda to publishers and intervened to have a visa ban lifted. When Neruda did return, MacLeish introduced him at a celebrated 1966 reading at the 92nd Street Y. Neruda inscribed the book on this occasion, and on his departure sent him a warm telegram (laid in).
Viaje / Trip.
raúl r. salinas. Providence: Hellcoal Press, 1973.
This book exemplifies many aspects I enjoy in collecting Chicano/Latinx literature: the texts are engaging (the title poem of this collection is fantastic); the publications are usually ephemeral (this chap was published by a group of Brown students); and the principals are more likely to be living (which enabled me to acquire this book, from the attic of its editor, Jaimy Gordon, and to track down the author for an inscription).