A Way Of Life by Theo Engela
Not until he had almost finished the piece did it suddenly strike Louis that Beethoven could not have written Liszt’s Second Hungarian Rhapsody! What the hell was happening to him? Was he losing his mind? Damn Liszt, damn Beethoven… Damn everybody! He broke off abruptly and slammed a discord with all his strength, a very bizarre ending to the Hungarian Rhapsody. Then he picked up the bottle and drank with greedy abandon.
Louis van Pletten was a successful young writer once. With two novels to his name in his early twenties and more talent than you could shake a stick at – he excelled in music, writing, art, philosophy – anything it seemed he set his mind to. But then, cruel Fate took his infant son and his beloved Sandra from him... and that's really when Louis' life first began to fall apart.
Then he met Boris Lessing, an older man with a taste for adventure and a hunger for the Truth. Louis toured the whole of Southern Africa with Boris in their search for meaning. One day, somewhere in the open spaces of South Africa - under a giant bluegum tree, they had a shared epiphany that was supposed to change their lives for the better.
Boris went home to paint again, and almost overnight became a popular and wealthy artist. Louis went home to write his third book.
What lay behind this longing, this loneliness, this restlessness, what had been the secret of the Conference Tree – the secret that had saved Boris just as it had eluded him?
Now Louis van Pletten is 45 years old and still struggling to complete his third book, his Great Masterpiece, his magnum opus. Trouble is, at over 300 pages, it's morbid, dark as hell and as full of utter misery and self-loathing as he is. He can barely stand to read it himself. He should burn it, but it's taken him three years to write the damn thing... and he has no spark left to start over – and just enough money left to last him three more months. He lies to himself all the time; he can stop drinking any time he wants to, it's his business anyway... friendship doesn't matter, even love and life don't matter - oh, why can't people leave him be? Especially Bernice? The truth is, he really can't live without alcohol... he's tried. He lives from one sip to the next, and it's become a way of life. And it's killing him.
Alcoholism is a creeping, crippling tragedy that affects the lives of millions. It's irrevocably affected the lives of Louis van Pletten, Boris Lessing and Bernice Collet.
Theo Engela's first novel focuses on alcoholism and the struggle of the main character with it. The story is brilliantly written, and describes this way of life with dramatic and upsetting realism, for the alcoholic and those nearest them.
[Edited by Christina Engela]