The Briefest Dictionary

Art & Literature

The Briefest Dictionary

Raúl Guerrero

September in Miami is for hurricanes—Taino for evil spirit of the sea. November, on the other hand, by the magic of books, becomes paradise. Borges defines paradise as one infinite library.

The Miami Book Fair brings to historic downtown some five hundred authors and thousands of books every November. While leafing through the 2017 catalogue, I came across the 50th anniversary commemoration of One Hundred Years of Solitude, García Márquez’s magical realism masterpiece, and was hit by the observation by Milan Kundera on the genre. He said novels were long definitions of one or two words.

His infectious logic led me to imagine the Fair as a dictionary, and set out to compose one based on the work of some participants.


Facts (alternative). You don’t have to have a Harvard or Stamford degree to know this is ridiculous. A lie is a lie is a lie. Dan Rather.

Friendship. There is an infallible theory about friendship: one must always know what to expect from each friend. Carmen Posadas.

Kissing. Then he would kiss me, and I’d feel I was dancing on the edge of fainting. Maria Dueñas.

Migration. I learned very quickly that when you migrate, you lose the crutches that have been your support; you must begin from zero, because the past is erased with a single stroke and no one cares where you’re from or what you did before. Isabel Allende.

Objective. Never let go of that fiery sadness called desire. Patii Smith

Practicality. It’s easier to put on slippers than to carpet the whole world. Al Franken.

Vitality. With her waiting she had lost the strength of her thighs, the firmness of her breasts, her

habit of tenderness, but she kept intact the madness of her heart.” Gabriel García Márquez.

 And nothing better to end than Neruda, borrowing a pearl from THE CAPTAIN’S VERSES, insolently borrowing it for a definition.

Essential: Take bread away from me, if you wish, take air away, but don’t take from me your laughter.

 Raúl Guerrero is Director of the Downtown Arts + Science Salon,, and author of the novel Women Loved Dr. Böll.


Actor and translator Islara Souto and Martha Otis, novelist, poet and Professor of Literature at the University of Miami, join DASS Director Raúl Guerrero for an intimate conversation about the Nobel laureate poet. And the three will read his magnificent work both in the original Spanish and English. Piano Jazz Intermixed. Guest performance by MAKAI.

November 15. 

7-9:00 pm. 

Le Chat Noir 

2 S. Miami Ave. Miami, Fl. 33130