We received a cheering email from Eduardo Ballester, a subscriber based on the south coast of Uruguay, back in 2019 which detailed plans to open a bookshop and a wish to stock Slightly Foxed. We jumped at the chance of our magazine and books finding readers in such a far-flung location, and eagerly anticipated the launch of Rizoma in La Juanita, José Ignacio a year later. We have yet to book our trip (a bookshop-cum-hotel three streets away from the beach sounds like the ideal Slightly Foxed holiday destination) but it is always a thrill to see photos of our publications in such a beautiful setting and hear news that another rainbow-coloured selection of Slightly Foxed Editions is needed to top-up the shelves. Please read on to hear more about Rizoma from Eduardo, pick up a book recommendation or two and cast your eyes over the striking photographs of the librería.
Please tell us about your bookshop. What makes it special?
To begin with, Rizoma’s architecture is very different from what you can see in the rest of the neighbourhood. We’re in a seaside village where there wasn’t a bookshop before we opened. What makes us special, besides the ample selection of books we carry, is that we’re also a café, hotel and art gallery, where my wife and co-owner shows her ceramic sculptures. And we have a wonderful team of librarians and booksellers who can help seek out or recommend any book our customers might be looking for.
What inspired you to become a bookseller?
Naturally I have to say that it was my love of books and reading – even though now that I’m learning to become a bookseller I have much less time to read than before.
What are your all-time favourite reads and why?
This is a very difficult one, not least beacause I have a bad memory; I may greatly enjoy a book then forget about it in a very short space of time. Nevertheless, Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time has to be one, and I have really enjoyed George Steiner’s essays. One of the books I loved most in the last few years is Marion Poschmann’s The Pine Islands. These are favourites not only because they’re well written, but also for the feelings that surface while reading them.
Who would be your dream bookshop party guests?
Besides family, very good friends and our employees, I would choose the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, (the bookshop’s name, Rizoma, is in his honour, after the philosophical concept of rhizome), Jorge Luis Borges and our once neighbour Martin Amis.
Who has been your favourite customer?
The first time a young girl (she must have been seven or eight) visited Rizoma with her parents and sisters, the family went to the café while she chose a book and sat on the bookshop floor reading. She didn’t get up until the family was ready to leave and she chose five or six books that her parents then bought. She keeps coming back – she doesn’t sit on the floor now but she still buys a few books every time she visits.
What are your top picks for autumn reading?
I’ll have to go with The Queens of Sarmiento Park, which is a wonderfully written book by the Argentinian writer Camila Sosa Villada, Perdendosi by Edmund de Waal with photographs by Norman McBeath, Impossible by Erri De Luca and The Last Days of Roger Federer: And Other Endings by Geoff Dyer.
What is your favourite Slightly Foxed publication and why?
I have to say I love all your books. Lately I really enjoyed As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee. But I think my favourite publication is Slightly Foxed magazine – I subscribed many years before I opened the bookshop.
Los Lobos y Republica Argentina