Tuis /
Briewe /
Kennisgewings /
Skakels /
Boeke /
Opiniestukke /
Onderhoude /
Rubrieke /
Fiksie /
Poësie /
Taaldebat /
Language debate
Film /
Teater /
Musiek /
Resensies /
Nuus /
Slypskole /
Spesiale projekte /
Special projects
Opvoedkunde /
Kos en Wyn /
Food and Wine
Artikels /
Visueel /
Expatliteratuur /
Expat literature
Reis /
Geestelike literatuur /
Religious literature
Nederlands /
Gayliteratuur /
Gay literature
Hygliteratuur /
Erotic literature
In Memoriam
Wie is ons? /
More on LitNet
LitNet is ’n onafhanklike joernaal op die Internet, en word as gesamentlike onderneming deur Ligitprops 3042 BK en Media24 bedryf.

Foreword of the book Acid Alex by Al Lovejoy

Koos Kombuis

Click on book cover to order from!
Order now from!

ISBN: 1770070931
Language: English
Format: 210mm x 134mm
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 368
Published: 2005-06-10
Imprint: Zebra Press
Click here for press release!

In your hands, you are holding a book, which is about to turn South African literature on its head.

Congratulations on buying it. Or shoplifting it. Or getting a singed copy from the author’s website. Or whatever. By owning it, you have just become a cutting edge reader. That is, if you read it. But you will, you will.

Once you have started on the first paragraph, this book will be impossible to put down. That is a guarantee.

I knew Al. I knew the drug scenes he is writing about. And he writes about those scenes so vividly, so compellingly, that after reading a page – any page – of Acid Alex, my lungs starts hurting, my chest starts wheezing, and my eyes fill with tears. To me, reading this manuscript is like peeling an onion. A very large onion. It is like peeling an onion with a very sharp knife. It is a harrowing experience, because it is the truth.

Yes, I am the “mal ou” who lived in AI’s kitchen, I have written a bit about that experience in my own autobiography, which I haven’t read for a while for the very same reason, but if I remember correctly, I subtly altered the details. Al now told everything exactly the way it was, there is no longer any need for secrecy. Yes, I stayed in Al’s kitchen while I planned my cultural revolution. I later pulled it off, by the way, but that is another story.

This is Al’s story, and in many ways it is even more surprising, more shocking, more far out than my own. Compared to Al’s story, my own life seems rather tame. I am thankful for that. At least, in Al, I have one person whom I can point to proclaim: “Look, this guy was more wasted than I was.” Or: “Look, this man went further that I ever did, challenged more conventions than I did, dared more than I did, and actually survived to produce a better book that I will ever produce, and in better English, too.”

Al Lovejoy, as a writer, is very difficult to define. I would guess he is a kind of mixture between Herman Charles Bosman and William Burroughs, but that doesn’t quite say it at all. There are bits of Walt Whitman, here, and bits of Haruki Murakami, and bits of Kafka, and Kerouac, and Zappa, and even Courtenay. But, most of all, Lovejoy the author is his own person. He bounces from page to page like a fireball, he wraps sentences and images and events together like sosaties and then braais them. He undermines, he jokes, he preaches, and most of all he tells his story, his astonishingly breathless story, one of the strangest stories ever to come out of Africa. If Mandela topped bestseller lists with Long Walk to Freedom, this book could just as well have been called Dizzying Rush to Jail (and back). Boy, what a literary turn-on. God, what a trip.

The repercussions that will be caused by a story such as this will, for obvious reasons, hit far and wide. This book is more than just an innovative literacy experiment: together with its subject matter, it will do for South African culture what Trainspotting did for modern Scottish consciousness. The social implications are staggering. There were, and are (today more than ever), many people like Al in our society. Al was very much a part of the so-called “lost generation” of South African kids who grew up under a repressive regime, and so also suffered under apartheid. Al’s essential problem – and this was my essential problem – was finding legitimacy in a seemingly hostile adult environment. Since birth, he was surrounded by idiots. He was an intelligent child caught up in a hopelessly dysfunctional world.

This was the reason why I squatted in his house back then, this was the reason we became friends, this was the reason why we landed up in street fights together, why we did drugs. I have always known about Al’s potential writing talent. I knew, even back then, that if he wrote his life story, he’d have a bestseller on his hands. The problem was to find the time and patience to finish it. The problem was: how the hell do you write a full-length novel AND hold down a steady job as an international drug smuggler at the same time? Luckily, a few things counted in Al’s favour: his expertise in the IT industry, his basic willingness to do the right thing should the right thing prove profitable enough, and his brutal honesty as an author.

Of course I cannot vouch for the absolute truth of every incident in this book – to do that, I would have had to be with Al right from the start of his life – but I can vouch for his sincerity as a person, his odd insistence on street ethics, and his sense of fairness, which, as he explained to me during countless late-night conversations, came from looking after himself and his buddies during bad times.

Thank you, Al, for completing this book, and thank you for letting me stay in your kitchen all those months. Oh, and I’m sorry I never cleaned up that shattered tequila bottle I flung against the wall in a fit of rage. Or was it you? Never mind. What’s done is done. I wish you the best, my bra, now henceforth and evermore …

LitNet: 21 June 2005

boontoe / to the top

© Kopiereg in die ontwerp en inhoud van hierdie webruimte behoort aan LitNet, uitgesluit die kopiereg in bydraes wat berus by die outeurs wat sodanige bydraes verskaf. LitNet streef na die plasing van oorspronklike materiaal en na die oop en onbeperkte uitruil van idees en menings. Die menings van bydraers tot hierdie werftuiste is dus hul eie en weerspieël nie noodwendig die mening van die redaksie en bestuur van LitNet nie. LitNet kan ongelukkig ook nie waarborg dat hierdie diens ononderbroke of foutloos sal wees nie en gebruikers wat steun op inligting wat hier verskaf word, doen dit op hul eie risiko. Media24, M-Web, Ligitprops 3042 BK en die bestuur en redaksie van LitNet aanvaar derhalwe geen aanspreeklikheid vir enige regstreekse of onregstreekse verlies of skade wat uit sodanige bydraes of die verskaffing van hierdie diens spruit nie. LitNet is ’n onafhanklike joernaal op die Internet, en word as gesamentlike onderneming deur Ligitprops 3042 BK en Media24 bedryf.