“That was but a prelude;
where they burn books,
they will ultimately burn people”
Heinrich Heine. 1834
“It is like when Nazis burnt books. Now the book stores are being closed one after another”, – I hear a friend’s voice in my head.
I am standing in front of an empty store in Glenhuntly Road. There is still a sign “Dymocks” hanging overtop. The empty carton boxes are splattered on the floor. The shelves are still hanging on the walls, empty.
I did not know that it closed down. I ambled down to the shop on my rare occasion now of visiting the area. We used to come here very often, me and the kids. It was a regular occurrence. We spent hours just sitting in the quiet area and deciding on which books to buy. We would make special trips for birthday presents or specific reference books – My son loves History and Science. I would often wander in on my own when in a bad mood and in need to lift my spirit. I would always find the new-age section quite helpful. The travel books for my tour-guiding. The entire collection of “Harry Potter”. “The Guinness Books of Records”. “The History of Jews in Food”. That book I bought for a friend’s wedding and decided I liked it so much that I had to have my own copy. The store had to place a special order as they only had one copy.
Now I am standing in front of destructed cultural space that was for most of the years of my children growing up, our favourite home of BOOOKS. Instead of lined ordered perfection of cultural domain, disarray and disorder. The tall imposing floor to ceiling windows, that used to always colourfully display new publications, are now collecting dust.
I come closer to the neglected shopfront, disappointed at purposefully coming to that place (like in old times) and not finding it there, not having the opportunity to enter that books-filled space. I feel like a character in a science –fiction movie who’d return back to home planet to find that all the memories are gone, that all is changed. A typewritten half- torn sign sticking to the window on the inside: “After 15 years the Dymocks Elsternwick family business is closing its doors. John and Elaine would like to thank all the customers for long-term ongoing support.”
My younger daughter’s voice is saying in my head: “Did you know that BORDERS in Chadstone has closed down?” That was our other “family book space”. We’d go there in the evenings and stay until shop closed for the night at 10pm and just sit and browse through the books, and read some pages from here and there.