Anton was born in Cape Town and lived in Muizenberg for several years before moving to Barrydale. He owns the House of Books, an old town house filled from top to bottom with shelves and tables full of books. He buys his second-hand books from all over the Overberg area and beyond. He’s also a photographer and has a lot of knowledge on literature. He has many stories to tell about the people he has encountered in his shop.
“I’ve been living in Barrydale for many years. Well, not too many. I could have left a while ago, but decided to stay. Where would I go if I decided to leave? A place that had cream and peaches, milk and honey… Cream puffs, gambling casinos, free cigarettes – I don’t know, just some other place. But where does one go? I mean, where do you run, you know? I like the coast, because you walk on the beach with the dogs. It’s too hot here to go out in summer, there are too many mosquitoes, and in the winter it’s too cold. The people are very clickey around here. If you like me now, and you think I’m okay, in two days time somebody else will tell you that I’m awful. And then you’ve got a decision to make whether you like the other people or me. I’m rude, I’m acerbic. You’re not going to get scones and tea out of me, you’re going to get sarcasm and anger and frustration.
“My dad was a painter. I can’t paint, so I went into photography. And books – books taught me. I’ve been doing photography for quite a while. I used to rent out DVD’s, but people don’t bring them back, so I’ve converted to books. This room represents my life in a way, because these are the places I’ve been to, people I know, situations I’ve come across, so it’s familiar to me. There are African authors, the Union buildings, there’s some political stuff, the history of the animals… But all the other stuff, like fiction and all the others, it’s beyond me. It’s beyond my scope of understanding.
“I understand more or less what goes on in this room because it’s everything from Southern Africa. And it’s also quite important to collect books, because obviously with all the political correctness in places like libraries, they won’t restore a book – they’d rather buy a new book. Because the historical stuff is not important for the new South Africa. And all history is important, whether it’s left or right-wing or whatever. Some of the books aren’t even digitally copied yet, because they were maybe printed in Afrikaans, 40 years or 50 years ago, and they’ve been lost. So it’s almost a piece of history that’s been lost.