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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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

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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!

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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.

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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

 

Peer review pressure is mounting

My books have garnered around forty or fifty reviews.

I have been called everything from “the Che Guevara of literary commentary” to “the literary equivalent of the Unabomber”. I have been described as Pythonesque and Pynchonesque. Arrogant and opinionated. Insane, bizarre and completely cracked. But that’s enough about me. Let’s talk about you. Have you bought my memoir yet? I didn’t think so. Back to me, then.

Miraculously, not a single review over the years has been negative. Sure, there was one book that got sent out to critics with ten rand notes slipped inside, but I doubt that was enough to swing it in my favour. Any ethical books page editor would require at least a hundred bucks to say something nice.

For the first time, though, I’m feeling a little anxious. Being criticised for your writing is one thing. Being hammered for the things you’ve done in your life is something else. But I suppose that’s the risk you take when you write a memoir.

So far, so good.

Bruce Dennill

Brian Joss review

Ray Joseph review

Shoot me now

If you’re going to expose yourself, there’s no better place to do it than in the Namib Desert.

“Come up,” said my daughter, Liberty. “We’ll shoot you.” A lot of fathers live in fear of hearing those words. Did she have patricide in mind, or something a little more visual? It was hard to say.

Flying from Cape Town to Windhoek takes as long as it does to fly from Cape Town to Durban, except it’s four times more expensive and twice as weird.

Alice fell down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. You get the same feeling landing at Hosea Kutako International Airport.

Liberty was born in Windhoek – something for which I have repeatedly apologised. She and her Belgian-born boyfriend, Laurent, graduated from Afda film school in Cape Town a couple of years ago and have set up their own production company in Namibia.

When I told her that my memoirs had been published and that I needed to decide whether I should once and for all ditch my disguise, which has served me well over the past ten years as a writer, she suggested we head for the desert.

Laurent’s parents own Namib Sky Balloon Safaris near Sossusvlei. They live, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere. Crime isn’t a problem. If you do get stabbed, it’ll be by an oryx or a porcupine.

This is an agoraphobic’s worst nightmare. Rolling plains, mountains and dunes disappear into the distance. It’s vast, empty and primal.

“So will you be taking all your clothes off?” Laurent asked nervously. He had already seen me wearing high heels and one of Liberty’s short, tight skirts – for a photo that accompanied my Sunday Times column – but I could see the idea of me prancing about, willy a-flap in the breeze, might stretch familial ties to breaking point.

“Let’s get out there and see what happens,” I said. They loaded up their gear and we headed off into the shimmering nothingness.

There’s a reason you don’t see many people in black overcoats wandering about the desert. I sweated like a sick pig as they filmed me running, walking and eventually crawling. Laurent fired up the drone while I went off to sit in the middle of one of the many freaky fairy circles in that area. It came towards me at a terrible speed. Moments before it whacked into my head, Laurent sent it soaring skywards, the GoPro capturing a moment of terror on my face.

Did I get naked? Watch the video.

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LaxG2CrSPRg

THE CREW

Liberty & Laurent of Endemic Productions on location.

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THE BASE

The home of Laurent’s parents, who own Namib Sky Balloon Safaris

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So very launched

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I don’t know why my publisher, Pan Macmillan, decided that I needed two launches for my book – Incognito – The Memoirs of Ben Trovato – in the space of a week in Cape Town. Perhaps they wanted a backup in case one of the launches had to be aborted like a cheap North Korean nuclear missile test.

Both events were wildly successful. Then again, I also think World War Two was wildly successful.

The man given the onerous task of interrogating me at Kalk Bay Books on 28th May and again at the Book Lounge on 5th June was the legendary troubadour and troublemaker, Roger Lucey.

The denizens of the Deep South emerged from their lairs to guzzle wine and beer at Kalk Bay Books, while the urbanistas did the same a week later at the Book Lounge, conveniently located across the road from the depraved Kimberley Hotel.

Thierry Cassuto – Maestro Geppetto of Puppet Nation ZA – had his contacts in the underworld deliver six bottles of Jameson’s to the Book Lounge, where shooters were shot and laughs were had.

Bella, who features in Incognito, stepped in to lend a hand. She said the only reason she let me live was because I had made myself look far worse than her in the book and she felt sorry for me.

Making my first public appearances after writing as Ben Trovato for over a decade was both terrifying and exhilarating. Apparently I have to do it all over again – twice – at the South African Book Fair next weekend. It’s enough to make one give up writing altogether.

Here are some photos from both launches.

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