Buy the ticket, take the ride

Dear SANParks,

I hear you are looking for people to help you kill some animals. Well, look no further. I am your man. This filthy pandemic, and our government’s unhinged response to it, has made me very angry. I have been wanting to murder something since March. Thing is, you kill a person these days and you can go to jail for up to, I don’t know, what’s the going rate … two weeks? A month?

………………………..

Right. There’s obviously more to this than meets the eye. This is the start of the column that appears in today’s edition of The Citizen.

The editor, who graciously offered to host my column 18 months ago, has asked me to refrain from posting my weekly literary expectorations here and on social media.

He would prefer it that my unruly legion of readers either bought or subscribed to the newspaper if they wished to read my column. This is understandable.

Prostitutes are faced with a similar situation when it comes to men who, swan-like, pledge their loyalty to only one person forever more. It’s bad for business. If you can get the same service for free at home, why would you pay to get it from us?

Since I am now aware that the editor knows I have been posting my column here a day or two after he has had his way with it, let me just say that I am in no way equating him with a prostitute. I felt in need of a metaphor and it was the only one that came along.

We live in a world of unfairness and it would seem, well, unfair, to add to it. Not without being rewarded, anyway. I post my Citizen column online in the hope that as many people as possible will read it and then shower me with adoration. Or hate mail. I don’t really mind either way. Like any decent drug dealer, I know distribution is the key that unlocks the golden pig. I have yet to find the pig.

By whorishly putting my words about for any grizzled punter to come along and read for free, I am taking money out of the mouths of everyone who works at The Citizen.

Okay, that might be overstating things. But it seems fairly obvious that the paper wouldn’t be able to afford columnists (or anything at all) if nobody bought it. By offering my column for free, once it’s been published, I am effectively sabotaging myself. It’s almost Shakespearean.

So. There it is. If you love me as much as you say you do, and I’ve been married twice so there’s no reason to think you’re lying, you will either buy the paper or subscribe. If you’re really strapped, you can even just buy the Wednesday edition, when my column comes out. It’s, like, R7 or something. If you can’t afford that, you have no business being online.

And for those of you who think Eschel Rhoodie is still in charge of The Citizen, you can fuck right off.

Subscribe here: http://thecitizen.pressreader.com

or here: https://citizen.co.za/bundle-subscriptions/

or here: https://citizen.co.za/subscribers/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read it and weep (with laughter)

Right. Since we are all essentially trapped in our homes, we’re going to need to find things to laugh about if we aren’t going to turn on each other like rats in a cage. Making fun of each other’s shortcomings is fine, but sooner or later it will end in tears or violence.

Alcohol and drugs can keep you amused for only so long before they run out or you build up a tolerance. Or you become a full-blown addict and your family pushes you outside and locks the door.

My advice is that you read. Books are harmless unless used to bludgeon your partner in his sleep. Reading, unlike Facebook, can’t make you more stupid than you already are.

If you are going to read, you might as well laugh at the same time. As my contribution to helping others in this weird and dark time, I am offering eleven of my books to download. Obviously not for free. This is not a charity. However, some may say that it’s pretty damn charitable to only charge R50 for nine of the titles.

Click on the Contraband link on this page and you can choose which books to download to read as a PDF on your device. Payment through Payfast or EFT is safe and reliable.

Have a happy isolation.

Contraband

 

Pulp non-fiction – A murder story

In the perilous world of publishing, there is something called ‘sales or return’. It works like this. Bookshops will order so many copies of a new title. If those get sold, they might order more.

Unsold copies are eventually returned to the publisher who, in turn, gives the author the opportunity to buy the stock at a discount. The author declines the offer because he believes there is still life in his book and also because he is broke and he vows to never write again. The result is that hundreds, sometimes thousands, of copies get destroyed. Pulped is the term they use.

My new book, Durban Poison, was released in November. Normally, bookshops will return unsold stock over a period of months. However, a non-normal situation has arisen. My publisher, MFBooksJHB, is dissolving her imprint and ending her contract with Jacana Media on 31st January.

Today, Jacana issued a trade announcement directed at booksellers.

“In order to manage the inventory, we will need to have all the below-listed titles returned to (the distributors) Booksite by no later than 25 February 2020. No returns will be accepted thereafter.”

At the end of the list of forty books, the killer. “No orders for these titles will be processed after 31 January 2020.”

So. Quite a few anxious authors out there. Melinda has indicated that she will consider buying some – but not all – of the remaining stock of Durban Poison in the hope of selling it on.

After 25 February, hundreds of copies of Durban Poison will be loaded into a van and taken off to the knacker’s yard. This doesn’t have to happen. It’s in your hands.

Books that make people laugh shouldn’t have to die.

Buy buy baby

Hark, the Christmas tills do ring. The season of giving, taking, looting, stabbing and shooting is almost upon us. The Little Drummer Boy has already driven me from at least two malls.

All you can do is laugh. You have to, otherwise you’ll cry. This is where my new book is useful.

As you know, if you’ve been paying attention, Durban Poison is available in proper bookshops like Exclusive Books and Wordsworth. Other shops might have it, too. If they don’t, burn them to the ground.

If you want your copy scribbled in, you’ll have to buy it right here on this site. Just click on the Contraband link. You wouldn’t be the first. In fact, I’m on my way to the Post Office right now to despatch the first bunch of orders. I have even provided photographic evidence in case you think I’m lying.

Stock is limited, as is my enthusiasm for continuing to pay for packaging, postage and driving to the Post Office.

Contraband

‘Durban Poison: A Collection of Vitriol and Wit’ by Ben Trovato is the funniest book I’ve read all year

Get your Durban Poison here!

I promised that my new book would be available on my website and, lo, it has come to pass. Praise be.

I’m happy to devalue your copy by scribbling something in it. If you want it inscribed to someone other than yourself, supply the name in the box marked Order Notes.

There is limited stock available. Seriously. I am not just saying that to sell more books. I’m not like the others. Also, given the reputation of the Post Office, early orders are advisable unless you want to get it in time for Christmas 2020.

PDFs of my other titles are also available. Just click on Contraband.

Contraband

 

 

 

 

Boks, beer and a brand new book

Right. It’s the day after the big win and I know how you are feeling. But you’re in luck. I happen to have the perfect cure for a crushing hangover. It’s my new book, Durban Poison, and it will help tremendously in the recovery process. Laugh or die. The choice is yours.

Published by former smasher of drugs and crasher of Ferraris, Melinda Ferguson, the book has been selected by Exclusive Books for inclusion on The List. It’s also available in other bookshops and online. And as an ebook.

In the next few days you will be able to order a copy right here on this site. If you like, I’ll devalue yours by scribbling something in it. I might even get around to posting it. Coming on top of the Bok win, this really is the cherry on the koek.

What a time to be alive.

 

Durban Poison PR

https://www.iol.co.za/sunday-tribune/i-aim-for-100-words-per-beer-ben-trovato-talks-new-book-36052829

 

 

 

The Ben Trovato Files

Who among us doesn’t remember satirist Ben Trovato’s outrageously subversive trilogy of letters to and replies from the rich, famous and downright dangerous? Well, the madness continues as the letters are reincarnated for the first time on video.

Featuring scenes of the writer himself, the letters come to life in a creative mélange of stop-motion animation, live action and a liberal dose of artistic craziness.

The episodes will be short and punchy, each featuring a letter and its reply, with durations ranging from ninety seconds to three minutes. The team has produced a pilot episode titled ‘The Two Oceans Aquarium’ from a letter Trovato wrote to the big house of fish. He got a reply without even having to bribe them.

Working on this project is a close-knit production team including cinematographer Dave Aenmey and animation artist Lindsay van Blerk. Dave has worked on many commercials, music videos, documentaries and feature films during his 30-year career.

Lindsay has directed and animated numerous award-winning films including The Velveteen Rabbit and The Chimes. He worked as storyboard supervisor and director of animation on the feature film Zambezia and has also directed and animated TV commercials and television series.

The material is drawn from the many letters and replies that appeared in The Ben Trovato Files, Will The Real Ben Trovato Please Stand Up and Stirred Not Shaken.

Anyone interested in helping to finance the series in return for a production credit is invited to contact Ben at bentrovato@mweb.co.za or leave a message right here on his site. Enquiries from producers and production houses are also welcome.

The pilot episode can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmafQMWDkrA

Mother of all reviews

Incognito: A Breathless Read for All the Right Reasons

Incognitopic1

 

Writing vigorous material is not easy. And documenting a life from within a first person perspective can be a pit of snakes: what you might consider utterly fascinating about your own life might not be enough to get your reader to turn one page before soporific murkiness pulls in. Vigorous, funny, real and in the first person, Mark Verbaan’s Incognito is unputdownable.

If for the past decade or so, you looked forward to his various print media columns under his pseudonym Ben Trovato, which ruthlessly and relentlessly pulled opened the blinkers and poked into the sensibilities of South African crass stupidity and governmental mediocrity, you will completely relish this book which gives the back story of how the name and the idea of the pseudonym grew.

Admittedly, this element of the rich life Verbaan has lived, in, under, over and alongside the proverbial radar, only crops up from chapter 18, but the writing has so much wisdom and magnificent ability that it is not only a book about a pseudonym explained and set free, as it were. Or one about a columnist and sub-editor who was given short shrift by the newspapers he wrote for, or gave them the finger when he’d had enough of their petty politics. It’s not even only about a young man sailing, traipsing and gingerly wading through the poisonous contradictions and heady nuances that being young and white and articulate in a country rotten with apartheid values was like.

It’s about all of these things, but it is underpinned with such flawlessly crafted writing that you will want to eat this book from beginning to end, and will have difficulty not reading it all in one night.

Resonant with the kind of breathless pace in Jack Kerouac’s On the RoadIncognitomight remind you a little of the focus of JH Thompson’s An Unpopular War, as it offers a running commentary on life, love, loss, letting go and bewilderment in a manner that reeks with such honesty and genuineness that you will laugh – and at times cry – out loud. Never sinking into the maudlin, it’s a breathless read for all the finest reasons, but the laughs conjured up are never hollow. Cynical, yes. Obscene, certainly. Amoral, indeed. And totally laden with drugs, sex and rock ‘n roll. But as you read, the rhythm of the language is audible in your head, and it’s cast with such unselfconscious capability that it leaves you reeling. And makes you fall a little bit in love with a man who can write with such rigour.

This is a lovely book which keeps the mystique of Trovato behind his dark glasses and black Fedora intact as it celebrates Verbaan with all his flaws and graces, offering simultaneously, beautiful, brave and critical insight into the monstrous incompetence that makes our world turn.

Incognito: The Memoirs of Ben Trovato by Mark Verbaan (2014: Macmillan, Johannesburg)

 

http://robynsassenmyview.wordpress.com

 

Lotto for the literate

A lot of people are asking me how they can get hold of my latest book without actually paying money for it. That’s just how they roll.

One of the ways is to enter a competition being run by the publishers, Pan Macmillan. It involves retweeting their tweet.

If that’s still too much effort, you could always try shoplifting.

‪#WIN 1 of 5 copies of ‪@BTrovato‘s Incognito! To enter, RT this by 9 am (SAST) on 28/07. Ts&Cs: ‪http://bit.ly/HWOGj0  ‪pic.twitter.com/eXlRy94nEl

 

cover copy

An open letter to Kendall Jones – femme fatale of the African jungle

Dear Kendall,

May I call you Kendall? Ms Jones sounds so formal. Besides, I feel like I know you. Yes, I do mean ‘know’ in the biblical sense. You look eerily similar to a dozen or so women I’ve slept with. I’m a sucker for the vacuous, blonde, slutty look, which you have in spades.

You’ve been popping up all over Facebook lately. Well done! You must be tremendously excited by all the attention. Sure, most of it isn’t the kind of attention a normal person would want. But then again, you’re not normal. Far from it.

When I saw that photograph of you straddling a lion you’d just shot, I thought, “My god, what a magnificent animal.” The lion wasn’t a bad specimen, either. I like the way you’re tugging on his mane to make his mouth hang open. With his eyes shut, it’s almost as if he’s moaning and begging for more! You like that, don’t you? You’re such a tease.

fact45

I’m sure you didn’t have to walk too far to shoot that big boy. With your looks, I expect the park rangers tranquilized him, then used pointy sticks to prod him towards you. There’s an art to this kind of hunting, you know. The real professionals can take down a darted lion at ten paces without spilling their drink. You wouldn’t have been drinking, though. You need both hands to wield a bow. It must be incredibly difficult to kill a lion with a weapon like that. I bet he looked like a porcupine by the time you’d finished with him.

I really love your profile picture on FB. There’s something about a blonde dressed from head to toe in camouflage that gets my blood racing.

kendall

And if she happens to have her arms wrapped around a dead leopard, well, it’s into the cold shower for me.

leopard

Your page says you were “born and raised in the great outdoors of the great State of Texas. What a shame. Were your parents too poor to afford a house? I’m not judging you. Some of my best friends were born in the bush. I don’t mean to be presumptuous, either. For all I know, you weren’t raised by people at all. That’s okay. All the really cool people were raised by animals. Except those raised by wombats. They don’t turn out so well. Have you ever shot a wombat? I believe they explode. Quite pretty at night.

Is it true that your 13th birthday present was the chance to blow a rhino’s brains out? What a lucky child you were! Most girls don’t get to kill their first rhino until they are well into their teens. Did they blindfold it for you? Oh, wait. It’s you who would have been wearing the blindfold. On the other hand, it was probably more of an execution than a hunt, so I’m sure someone with your compassion would have insisted that the rhino be blindfolded.

rhino2

There’s something poetic about it. While kids your age were playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, you were playing fire-the-bullet-into-the-rhino. That’s why you’re famous and they’re working at Mickey D’s, right?

rhino

Well, as we say in South Africa, the only good rhino is a dead rhino. You’re doing us all a tremendous favor by ridding the bush of these unsightly vermin. Any animal that has a horn on its nose deserves to die. Silly bastards.

I also love the picture of you with the elephant. I can’t quite make out what you have in your hand. It looks like a javelin. Did you stab him to death? It’s the only language they understand.

131

I hope he was asleep and that you didn’t risk your life. Someone as hot as you deserves to live a long and happy life. Elephants, on the other hand, are grey – a color that went out of fashion in 1884. Ivory, though, will always be fashionable. Those two enormous tusks will keep you in jewelry for a long time to come. Hey, imagine if you lost one of your perfect teeth, as impossible as that may seem. You could carve a new one and use that as an implant. How cool would that be?!?!? LOL

ellie

Did you know that you can also use their feet as wastepaper bins or umbrella stands? All you have to do is hollow them out. Of course you know this. Why else would you shoot an elephant if not to decorate your ranch?

I can’t believe how many animals you have killed and you’re only 19! Imagine what you’re going to do in your late-twenties, when you’re strong enough to carry a bazooka or an RPG-7 anti-tank grenade launcher. The carnage will be spectacular!

zebrabucklion2543

Is it true that the bunny-huggers are threatening to shoot you if you come back to Africa? I’d like to see them try. These hairy-legged losers think knives are for cutting up carrots instead of buffalo. Morons.

buff

You’ve tried to make these rabid left-wing loonies see reason by explaining that your hunting actually funds conservation and “helps feed African villagers”.

Truth is, I’m not very good at math or even logic, really, but if you say that killing an animal is the best way to ensure its survival, I won’t argue. With a face like yours, you could tell me that hippos love nothing more than a bullet between the eyes and I’d believe you.

hippo

And if there’s one thing that African villagers want more than access to free broadband internet, it’s a crocodile carpaccio for starters, followed by fillet of wildebeest topped with monkey gland sauce. Real glands from real monkeys, obviously. Do you do monkeys? Crafty little buggers. You might want to try using a good ol’ American-made flamethrower. That way they come ready-cooked. There should be loads of cheap ex-Vietnam models floating around. Flamethrowers, not monkeys.

You probably don’t get much time to hang out with the Texas Tech University’s cheerleading squad any more, which is a bit of a pity. Perhaps you could combine the two. Drug a cheetah and when you do that leg action thing, you could kick him in the head. That would get a laugh from your fans, at least.

You say you’re hoping to host your own TV show next year? What a brilliant idea. I remember Jay Leno would bring animals onto his show. Instead of having a boring old expert talking about them, you could have people from the audience come up and shoot them in the face. It wouldn’t be gratuitous, obviously. That would be plain wrong. There would have to be prizes of some sort.

Anyway, babe. Good luck with the killing. Hope to see you out here again soon. You’d better hurry, though. The Mozambicans are poaching all our rhino and if you leave it too long there won’t be any left.

Say hi to Melissa Bachman. I’m sure you two are best of buddies. Do you have any pictures of the two of you in a hot tub? I’d sure like to see ‘em.

Anyway, darlin’. I gotta go. Tonight me and my buddies are lookin’ to bag us some German Shepherds. That’ll teach them fuckers to bark all night long.

Aim straight and keep your boots bloody.

Murderously yours,

Ben Trovato