Today is the final day for Macondo Books, a local used bookseller that has been a fixture in Guelph almost as long as I’ve been alive and certainly as long as I can remember.
It was the place where I first bought a real used book, a keeper book, one that would sit on my shelf. I had bought piles of trash fantasy and science fiction, of course, but it was Macondo Books where I went early in highschool, when I thought Samuel Coleridge and William Blake had rendered all other poetry worthless, to buy a hardcover collection of Romantic period poetry. I still have it, in much the worse condition for having taken it on vacation into the northern Ontario bush that summer, reading it by the light of a kerosene lamp in the evenings. I kept it, not because it’s such a terribly great edition, but because it was my first.
I bought countless more books there over the years. I was intending to list the titles that I could remember, but as I started going through my collection, I realized that there were just too many. I had gone to browse Macondo’s shelves too often: wandered too many times the hundred yards or so up from the market where I worked as a teenager, the cash I had earned waiting to be transformed into books before I ever made it home; spent too many afternoons avoiding my university work by spending money I didn’t really have on books I didn’t really need; went too frequently to find books as gifts for other people’s birthdays that were inevitably accompanied by gifts for myself, actual birth dates be damned.
I know, of course, that nothing, least of all a bookstore, is meant to last forever. I know that almost forty years is a pretty good run for a bookstore at any time, never mind at a time as difficult for booksellers as these past few decades have been. I know that there are other bookstores in the city (though far too few), one even as close as a block away. I know all this, but I still can’t help feeling a real sense of loss as Macondo closes.
I went in to say my goodbyes yesterday, bought a whole pile of poetry books at 80% off, books that I probably wouldn’t have bought otherwise but that I couldn’t pass up at garage sale prices. There wasn’t a whole lot left, not after a month of half price sales and no new acquisitions. The shelves were pretty bare. It felt like it was dying already, just waiting for someone to pull the plug.
I will miss Macondo Books.