31 May Rhodes alumnus Marc Schroeder hosted the Grahamstown launch of his debut novel, Sleeping With Dogs; A Tale of Madness, at NELM. The novel’s off-set commentary on one individual’s journey from drug abuse, to freedom and self-realisation makes it an ideal read for any Rhodes student.
Eastern Cape-esque does not even begin to localise the novel with its unique Grahamstonian prose; colloquial and oozing with dry humour – not too unlike the usual bar fly in the City of Saints.
The book follows Schroeder’s first-person narrative from his time as a Rhodes student, to landing a posh career in the finance industry, to finally discovering his true self in the Himalayan regions of Nepal and northern India.
Schroeder currently works at the Kashmir Trekking Company, a small ‘tourism’ agency that takes visitors on trips through the outskirts of the Himalayas in northern India. Schroeder’s contemporary Himalayan lifestyle serves as a ironic reflection of his life journey; up and down, jagged and fine, but rising to the occasion for this debut novel.
The book speaks to the explorative nature of varsity, particularly in terms of drug use and partying (or jolling rather) and normalises the outlandish social experiences of students.Think that trance parties are a new thing? Schroeder surprises readers by disclosing the dirty details of his own trance trips, and begs the rhetorical question, “why would anyone attend a trance party sober?”
Schroeder’s former Rhodes identity of “genius of the jol” is one that speaks to many students. And his discussion about drugs as a coping mechanism for self-denial and emotional repression remains salient long after his departure from campus.
Schroeder positively describes his addiction, and addiction at large, as situational. Upon arriving in Nepal for the first time he immediately lost interest in drugs; an ironic ‘stripping’ of his identity, yet fully supported by the bosom peaks of the Himalayas.
Schroeder may not have climbed Mount Everest yet, but his novel showcases an accomplishment just as impressive. A journey through addiction, fear, connection and growth, Sleeping With Dogs is a must-read.