We at Literary Tourist have been asking various book lovers in our circle of acquaintance to burst forth with a paragraph or two on their favourite (ideally used) bookstores . Here’s word from award-winning South African playwright and novelist Damon Galgut:
"Long street in Cape Town has been the home of second hand book stores since I moved here twenty five years ago, and I have spent many distracted hours moving from one to another. In just the past year or two, most of them have – alas – been forced to close down or move elsewhere, due to rising rents and declining clientele. Almost the only haunt left, though happily one of the finest, is Clarke’s. It’s not exclusively a second hand shop – their speciality is Africana – but I usually gravitate towards the big table at the back, and the many shelves upstairs, where the used books reside. In the book chains that dominate the selling of new publications in SA, as well as the few independent stores that survive, you’re pretty sure of finding a predictable list: whatever’s just appeared in the UK or US, or the fare on offer from local publishers. These have their pleasures, of course, but they can’t compete with the rich pickings of second hand stuff – precisely because it can’t be predicted in advance. Lots of dross, of course; but in amongst the rubble there is an occasional gem. Nothing quite gets the salivary glands working with the same zeal that an unperused heap of titles can. If you’re a book-lover, and you’re visiting Cape Town, make a turn at Clarke’s. It’s unlikely you’ll regret it."