Friday, June 14, 2013

short sharpe shock

This week's other notable (or, to be more accurate, noted by me) literary death was Tom Sharpe. I own eight Sharpe books, though I would guess it's been somewhere between fifteen and twenty years since I read one, and most of the ones I read were read in a big concentrated splurge of a couple of years following my watching the BBC's adaptation of Blott On The Landscape in 1985. It was an odd coincidence that my purchasing and reading Wilt On High, Sharpe's most recent book at that point (published in 1984), and then subsequently deciding that I'd read enough Sharpes and would move on to other things, coincided with a decade-long period of writer's block during which Sharpe published nothing until Grantchester Grind in 1995.

My enthusiasm for this sort of stuff has diminished a bit over the years, what with a lot of the farcical stuff deriving from a very British fear of sex, and of female sexuality in particular, i.e. the same thing that was at the heart of the Carry On films and makes them seem so tragic when you see them now. While that struck a chord with a 15-year-old, it all seems a bit sad now.

That said I would recommend giving the two South African satires Riotous Assembly and Indecent Exposure a go, and of the others perhaps The Throwback, which is probably the silliest of all his books but has a frenzied energy which is quite appealing.

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